SAFF U-19 Women’s Championship
Bangladesh, India declared joint winners
Host Bangladesh and India have been declared joints champions in the four-nation South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) U-19 Women’s Championship-2024 after a two-hour delayed decision following the match commissioner’s shameful fault in the final on Thursday.
The title deciding and tense match between two neighboring rivals was locked in 1-1 goals in the stipulated 90-minute at the Bir Shreshtha Shaheed Shipahi Mostafa Kamal Stadium in Kamalapur, Dhaka on Thursday evening.
Then the match moved toward the tie breaker where it was again locked in 5-5 goals in the five each shots. The final match was again locked in 11-11 goals in the sudden death session of the tie breaker that made match officials confused.
The match commissioner then surprisingly advised the match referee to decide the fate of the final through a toss (by a coin) in place of continuing the sudden death session as per bylaws.
India won the toss and started their maiden title celebration, but Bangladesh team refused the referee’s illegal toss decision and stayed in the field alongside their huge local fans.
Complying with the Bangladesh protest and reviewing the tournaments bylaws, the commissioner and referee changed their decision and advised both the teams to continue the sudden death session to decide the champions.
But India rejected the new decision and left the field immediately saying that they did not expect any result but the champions. Finally, both the teams were declared joint champions by SAFF authority as the match commissioner admitted his fault.
Youth and sports minister as well as the president of Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) Nazmul Hasan Papon attended the match as the chief guest and played a good role for an amicable settlement.
Earlier in the day’s match, Sibani Devu, who made a hattrick in India's 10-0 goals victory over Bhutan in tournament opener, put India ahead in the 8th minute by a cool placing shot, off a Nitu Linda's through pass, utilising the lapses of Bangladesh defender and custodian Swarna Rani Sarkar (1-0).
When the match was almost heading towards an Indian victory, Bangladeshi wonder girl Sagorika again came to rescue Bangladesh scoring the match equaliser in the 4th minute of the stoppage time amid huge enthusiasm from local fans (1-1).
It was the 4th goal for Sagorika in the tournament, scoring twice against Nepal and two against India -- one in the group match and another in the final.
Incidentally, it is the 4th successive win for Bangladesh against India after winning the SAFF U-19 Women’s Championship title in 2021 beating India twice--first in the league match and the 2nd in the final match.
Bangladesh smartly reached the final of the meet with an all-win record securing nine points from straight three league matches beating Nepal 3-1, India 1-0 and outplaying all losers Bhutan by 4-0 goals.
India booked a seat for the final crushing Bhutan by 10-0 goals, outplaying Nepal by 4-0 goals and losing to hosts Bangladesh by 0-1 goal.
Bangladesh team included Swarna Rani Sarkar, Afeida Khandokar, Ruma Akter, Joynob Bibi Rita, Surma Jannat, Munki Akhter, Sapna Rani, Masamat Sagorika, Puja Das, Eti Khatun and Bonna Khatun.