Indian women triumph in inaugural SAFF football championship

New Delhi: Sasmita Mallick struck the all-important goal as Indian women`s football team triumphed in the inaugural edition of the SAFF Championship beating Nepal 1-0 in the title clash, at the Cox`s Bazar Stadium near Chittagong on Thursday.

After a goal-less first half in which both teams were guilty of squandering chances, Mallick struck the winner in the 65th minute, which eventually put paid to Nepal`s hopes of winning the title.

The South Asian Games gold medallists hammered in 40 goals in five matches, but what was even more satisfying is that the team won without conceding a goal.

Bala Devi, who had scored a hat-trick in the semi-final against Pakistan, was adjudged the best player of the tournament.

However, after the goal rush in their previous matches, the in-form striking duo of Bala and Tababi Devi failed to live up to expectations in the final leaving the task of helping their team to the title on midfielder Mallick.

India came into the final on the back of some sterling performances over the last one week. They kicked off the tournament with a 18-0 hammering of Bhutan, thrashed Sri Lanka 7-0 in their next match before capping off the group phase with another emphatic win over hosts Bangladesh.

In the semifinal, India steamrolled Pakistan 8-0 to emerge as the firm favourites for the title.