AFC Asian cup qualifier: India eves held 1-1 by Palestine

West Bank, May 26 (IANS) India’s disappointing campaign in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup football (Qualifiers) ended with a 1-1 draw against hosts Palestine here at the Faisal Al Huseni Stadium.

Palestine, riding on striker Caro’s 47th minute spot kick, successfully held a dominant India to a 1-1 draw in their last Group D encounter here Saturday night. For India, Sasmita Malik scored her second consecutive goal of the tournament in the 35th minute.

Both the teams finish their campaigns with a point each. While India are third, Palestine stay rock bottom on the basis of goal difference.

India got their first real chance in the 19th minute when striker Pinky Magar’s right-footer from close was palmed away by rival custodian. The 51st ranked team could not make early inroads due to the number of legs – virtually the entire team – inside the danger area. But once they did, they stretched the Palestinian defence with the hosts’ ultra-defensive approach going for a toss.

Kamala Devi’s effort in the 17th minute, after being set up by Sasmita Malik, went inches wide. Pinky Devi’s header tested the goalkeeper. Former India Captain Oinam Bembem Devi kept the hosts’ rearguard on tenterhooks with her defence splitting through balls.

The twice SAFF Champions were rewarded for their relentless attacks in the 35th minute.

Sasmita – goalscorer of the last match against Chinese Taipei – expertly cut past her marker to unleash a thunderous right-footer that crashed into the top right corner.

It was 1-0 in favour of India at halftime.

Palestine equalised from nowhere minutes after the change of ends. Captain Tuli Goon tripped forward Natali inside the 18-yard box to give away a rare penalty. Caro converted from the spot.

In the other match of the day, Myanmar booked their place for next year’s AFC Women’s Asian Cup on goal difference after playing out goalless draw with Chinese Taipei.

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