New Delhi: The Indian women's football team began their South Asian Games 2019 campaign with a comfortable 5-0 win over the Maldives on Tuesday. Bala Devi grabbed a brace and Dangmei Grace, Manisha and Jabamani Tudu all scored a goal apiece to hand the team three points at the Pokhara Stadium in Nepal.
It only took five minutes for coach Maymol Rocky's side to take the lead through Grace, who rifled in a shot from the right flank.
Bala Devi, who returned last week from a trial with Scottish club Rangers WFC, scored two in quick succession to put India in a commanding position. In the 25th minute, she latched on to a pass from Jabamani from the left flank to score. Eight minutes later, she was on the end of a cross from substitute Manisha - making no mistake with the finish.
India went into the break leading by three goals and ten minutes into the second half, Aditi Chauhan and Bala were replaced by Panthoi Chanu and Anju Tamang respectively.
The defending champions ended the game on a high with two goals in two minutes in the closing moments. Manisha powered home a goal with skipper Ashalata Devi providing the assist in the 87th minute and just a minute later, Jabamani added the fifth as she headed the ball past the keeper from Manisha's lofted pass.
The win puts India on the top of the points table with hosts Nepal grabbing a 1-0 win over Sri Lanka in the opening match of the day.
India will now take on Sri Lanka in their next match, which will take place on Thursday at the same venue. The kick-off is scheduled for 9.45 a.m. IST (10 a.m. local time).
Starting XI: Aditi Chauhan (GK), Jabamani Tudu, Sweety Devi, Ashalata Devi (C), Roja Devi, Sangita Basfore, Bala Devi, Ratanbala Devi, Ranjana Chanu, Dangmei Grace, Sandhiya Ranganathan