Thailand Under-17 goalkeeper Pawarisa Homyampen had too much to lose in the concluding round-robin tie at the three-nation Under-17 Women’s Football Tournament, as an unfortunate error by the keeper privileged hosts India with three points as well as a spot in the final of the series. The Indians put up a stirring display to claim a 1-0 victory against Thailand in Mumbai on Tuesday.
The stoppage time drama aside, it was a closely contested game with both teams going at each other at an even pace. The pace and intensity of the Indians were unmatched, Thailand was, however, no less. But a costly slip by Pawarisa resulted in her side exiting the tournament. Apparently, Kritina Devi’s attempt to slide the ball went in off the custodian’s hands. It was out of the blue, with the Thailand side crumbling on the turf in despair.
India started offensively through a must-win game while playing out defence in the second half. The Thailand midfielders got the better of the Indians, but a resistant India held their nerves and kept pressing for the opener. It was thrilling to watch Sumati Kumari’s pace as she, along with Sunita and Lynda Kom, formed a formidable and aggressive force up front. Sumati managed a cross to Lynda but the latter was unable to do anything substantial with the ball, to which Sunita took a crack. Lynda went ahead with a clear shot in the second half, hastily, but the ball struck an onrushing Pawarisa's leg and bouncing back into play.
Indian keeper Manju saved India a chance of what could have been an opener for Thailand by blocking a potential shot goalwards. It was a repeat in the 63rd minute, as the visitors were denied a goal gain this time, when Janista pounced on the ball, but India’s Manju did not collect a free-kick cleanly.
India made changes towards the close, with Thomas Dennerby bringing in strikers to salvage a goal and consequently win three points to advance to the final. Sai Sankhe, Daisy and Kritina Devi were among the fresh legs on the turf, with the latter managing, with some unintended assistance from the Thai keeper, to net one in stoppage time, sealing the game in the process.