Turkish Women's Cup: India finish runners-up

Action from the IKosovo-india match. Photo: X@IndianFootball

Alanya (Turkey): India's hopes of winning their first-ever senior title outside the SAFF region were dashed by lower-ranked Kosovo in their concluding round-robin match of the Turkish Women's Cup here on Tuesday.

While the 1-0 victory, thanks to a strike by Erleta Memeti (90+2'), propelled 100th-ranked Kosovo to nine points from three matches and gave them their second title in a row, India, placed 35 spots above their opponents in the FIFA chart, finished runners-up with six points.

It was the Blue Tigresses' best performance in the tournament in three appearances.

India's Manisha Kalyan was adjudged the best midfielder of the tournament for her exemplary display throughout the competition.

It was a do-or-die match for India. For Kosovo, a draw was enough, though they did even better.

Seeking better stability in front of their own back four, India made one change to the starting XI from their previous match against Hong Kong as Sangita Basfore replaced Karthika Angamuthu.

India, while sitting on a mid-press on most occasions, chose their moments to impose a high press on the Kosovo back-four, a tactic that yielded several chances and also served to confuse the opposition defence.

Soumya Guguloth had the best chance of the first half and perhaps even the game on the quarter-hour mark, when Pyari Xaxa managed to steal the ball at the edge of the Kosovo box, before playing it to Indumathi Kathiresan, who threaded a delicate through ball between the lines, to Soumya behind the defence. The Indian winger only had Djellza Mehmeti to beat from inside the six-yard box but managed to side-foot it straight at the Kosovo keeper.

India's ploy to pressurise the Kosovo defence worked wonders, with Pyari, the striker, being the workhorse. She managed to make a crucial interception at the edge of the area in the 38th minute, an action that required a high boot from Donjeta Halilaj to bring her down.

Manisha showed her class from the ensuing free-kick, curling it around the wall, with the ball destined for the far post. However, Mehmeti produced a diving save to keep it out.

Manisha had another chance when she sprinted down the left and attempted a laced shot across the face of the goal, which was saved by the keeper. Her shot from the ensuing rebound went wide, just seconds before the half-time whistle.

Kosovo looked to implement their own high press in the second half, which often left the Indian full-backs isolated when the ball was played out wide to them.

An unmarked Soumya had another opportunity when Manisha sent in a long cross. With all the Kosovo defenders pulled to the near post by Manisha and Anju, Soumya had a gaping goal to aim at but miscued her attempted volley.

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