India Women - Oinam Bembem Devi

As is the trend in Asian Games, the Footballing category kicked off before the Opening Ceremony. The Indian Womens Team was in action against Maldives, in their opening fixture. Spouting their tally of points was important for the Indian Squad ,as not only would it provide a solid start to the tournament, but also a safe-passage to qualify for the next round, even after a defeat against the mighty South Koreans. Regarded as Underdogs, in a Group containing three teams ranked in the top 50 of the world, a win was crucial for the Maldives contingent. Lining up in a 4-3-3 which often reverted to a 4-2-3-1 the Indian side consisted of quality players in sensational form such as Bembem Devi and Bala Devi.

The match started with Indian fairy-tale and Maldivian heartbreak, as five minutes into the tournament Sasmita Malik scored for India. Malik, benefited from an accurate through ball and finished with finesse and skill against the Maldivian Goalkeeper. Soon the floodgates would open for the Indian Contingent as Kamala Devi and Bala Devi got on to the score sheets. Bala Devi, who was in inspired form, striking a hat trick in the exposure trip to China, stuck lightning again as her finish displayed pure acumen and class. Sasmita then scored her second of the game, as the Maldives contingent was left scrambling. Soon Kamala Devi scored her second of the game, matching her compatriot. Ironically, it was somewhat of a competition between the Indian Forwards as to who will score goals against the minnows, rather than a match between India and Maldives. Sasmita Malik scored her hat-trick, as the scoreboard displayed 6-0 in less than 30 minutes. The match was already more than over in the first 45 minutes as the Indian Juggernaut completed a 9-0 mauling of Maldives with Sasmita Malik scoring a hatrik, Bala Devi scoring a brace and Kamala Devi scoring four brilliant goals.

The second half began with a substitution as the sensational Bala Devi was replaced by Radha. The Indians showed no signs of receding their momentum gained in the first half, as Bembem Devi produced an exquisite through ball only to be scooped wide by Sasmita. The Back four compressed the Maldives attackers and played a very high line, goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan was often seen in the sweeper position, made famous by the antics of Manuel Neuer. 7 minutes into the second half and Ashalata Devi scored her first of the match, after a brilliant cross into the 6-yard area and a faulty clearance by the Maldivian Central Defender. The Indians enjoyed almost a complete share of possession as Maldives were rarely able to jot down three or four passes together. Bembem Devi then displayed her act of skill and class as she scored a sensational free-kick in the 55th minute. With the score at 11-0, the Indians relaxed with their fair share of possession.

However the Indian Juggernaut was too much to contain as Kamala Devi would go on to score her fifth of the game, benefiting from a superb assist by Parmeshwori Devi in the 65th minute. Sasmita Devi, in the battle of Indian Forwards scored from a free-kick, the Maldivian Goalkeeper unable to adjust to the height and dip of the ball. Sasmita would then go on to edge past compatriot Kamala Devi, scoring a superb goal, yet again and completing her double hatrick. The Final Nail in the Maldivian Coffin was stuck by the hardworking Parmeshwori Devi as she scored her first goal in the dying embers of the game, 15-0 glittered the scoreboard.

The Indian Womens National Team displayed signs of quality and brilliance in their triumph over Maldives. A solid start indeed, completed by a 15-0 mauling. Facing the mighty South Koreans and Thailand in their final two fixtures, the Indians only need a point to qualify, edging past other teams by their superior goal difference. However, with the form the Indian Contingent is in, a win in each of the two remaining matches, can be expected from the ladies in blue. The road for Maldives however looks abysmal, conceding 15 goals in their first fixture has put an end to their Asian dreams, as wins against both,Thailand and South Korea looks highly unlikely.