A fiesty India women’s football team tested its Brazilian counterpart but fell to a 6-1 loss in the first fixture of a four-nation tournament (also featuring Venezuela and Chile) at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus on Friday.
The fixture itself was historic, marking the first time any Indian team, male or female, took on a senior Brazil on the international stage. The game also saw Brazilian veteran Formiga play her last international game.
India made a meal out of the opportunity, taking the fight to the host and showing spirit on the field especially in the first half. Brazil opened the scoring early with the skipper Oliveira Debinha finding the back of the net inside the first minute of the fixture. Debinha made a run towards the ball while Indian keeper Aditi Chauhan came off her line to try and block any attempt at goal. Debinha’s first shot was blocked by a defender but the rebound fell back to her too and this time she had an empty net to slot into.
India equalised with Manisha running down the left flank, surprisingly with little defensive resistance from the Brazilian side. Despite Brazil trying to narrow down her run, she managed to slot the ball into the far corner to even the scales.
Watch the game here:
What followed was a game on equal terms, with India defending impressively to frustrate the Brazilian side. Chauhan was among the busiest players during this passage of play, making a few crucial saves to deny the hosts.
Brazil did manage to sneak a goal in the 36th minute, courtesy a pacy run from Giovana who managed to fend off a persistent backline to score the Selecao’s second.
The sides went into halftime with the scoreline reading 2-1 in favour of the host. India had much to be happy about given how it had matched Brazil step for step. However, this changed rather quickly in the second half, with Brazil dismantling the Indian defence to add five goals to its tally.
Borges Ariadina began the onslaught in the 52nd minute with a low shot from a Debinha pass. Brazil’s fourth goal came three minutes later and this time it was Kerolin on the scoresheet. Geyse Ferreira was too clinical for the Indian side, testing its paces for most parts of the second half and a pass from her to Kerolin set up the host’s fourth goal into the roof of the net.
Geyse got on the scoresheet herself soon after. Ana Vitoria cut through the Indian defence to pass the ball on to Geyse, who controlled the ball to up Brazil’s lead.
That became 6-1 in the 81st minute with Borges doing the honours. Formiga had come on with just over 10 minutes left in the game and the team tried to rally behind her to help her score in her international swansong. She nearly did, but the ball went straight to Chauhan in goal. Borges capitalised on the rebound to seal India’s fate tighter.
Formiga had another shot to score in the 94th minute to neatly wrap up her international career with a bow, but ended up slotting it over the crossbar.
India brought on a host of fresh legs, including promising 18-year-old striker Mariyammal, post the 80th minute, but there was too much to do with too little time for any of them to have a tangible impact. The visitor ran out of gas in the second half, with far too many defensive errors than it would have liked.
Legendary Brazilian striker Marta did not feature in the game but led tributes to Formiga after the final whistle. Both teams gave the 41-year-old a guard of honour with the Indian side also gifting her a signed jersey. She then took a lap around the playing area, indulging fans in photographs. A star-struck Indian team also stayed back to congratulate the veteran player.
This is the seventh country India has played this year as part of its preparations for the AFC Asian Cup next year and Thomas Dennerby will hope to draw on the positives from this game ahead of India’s clash against Chile on Monday.
India’s next fixtures:
November 29: India vs Chile, 2.30 AM IST kick-off
December 2: India vs Venezuela, 2.30 AM IST kick-off