It is widely acknowledged in football that goals win you matches but clean-sheets win you championships.
In the SAFF U-15 Championship, which India won defeating Bangladesh 1-0 in the final in Thimphu, the Indian U-15 girls conceded only one goal in four matches, while scoring sixteen. The Indian Goalkeepers bore the brunt of the opposition attacks and made some stellar saves throughout the tournament to keep India in the lead.
“It is important for goalkeepers to be at their best at all times because one slender mistake can lead to the opposition scoring”, said Indian U-15’s goalkeeping coach Mohammed Qadeer.
“Our plan throughout the camp was to build a compact defence to frustrate the opposition attacks. In fact, the goalkeepers played a vital role in organizing our defence”
“However, we just made one mistake in the entire tournament and that led us to concede a goal”, he added.
Manisha, who played three matches out of four, played a key role in the final to cement India’s position at the back, while Anjali who played one match against hosts Bhutan proved her mettle as India edged out a win over Bhutan 1-0.
“You cannot make mistakes when you are a goalkeeper. Manisha’s form in the final was superb and she was the main reason that we did not concede against Bangladesh.”
Bangladesh were thrashing teams in the SAFF Championship scoring an average of five goals per match but failed to get past the Indian defence line and the Indian goalkeeper.
“It was a difficult and tough test of my credentials in the final”, said Manisha. “But we stuck to the plan and played compact and eventually emerged champions.”