Manipur proved to be too strong for Haryana in the final of the Junior National Football Championship for Girls as they overpowered their counterparts by an unassailable margin of 4-1. Ratanbala Devi scored on the either side of the break and Hemolata Devi nailed a second-half brace for the Highlanders whereas Renu scored the solitary goal for Haryana.
Sudam Marndi, Minister of Sports & Y.S, Govt. of Odisha; Asirbad Behra, Hony. Secretary, OCA; Debashish Samantaray, President, Football Association of Odisha & Honourable MLA, Barabati-Cuttack and Sanjay Behera, Secretary, FAO were present among the dignitaries to hand the medals over to the girls.
Manipur girls started from where they left in the semi-final. Before even the players took their positions, Manipur whacked the first goal of the final, that too in the 56th second. Kashmina unleashed a long ball from the top of the box and Ratanbala Devi did no mistake to head it home.
After conceding in the very first minute, Haryana girls slowly tried to recuperate themselves. In the 10th minute, Premi Chiru tried her luck from inside the box but Haryana goalie Monika gloved it brilliantly.
Seven minutes later, Nisha was provided with a long ball from their own half and the Haryana game maker provided a loopy cross from the right flank which was converted exquisitely by the prolific striker Renu. Incidentally, it was the first goal conceded by the Highlanders.
Manipur gaffer opted for the first change in the 39th minute as she introduced Daya Devi at the expense of Kashmina.
Manipur left no stone unturned to put their nose at the front but the gritty goalkeeping by Monika and sturdy defence by the Haryana girls neutralised their every single effort.
The girls went to the changing room with the same scoreline.
Within seconds after resumption, Manipur almost got their second goal but Premi Chiru’s right-footed shot hit the side-netting.
On the hour-mark, Ratanbala completed her brace as she tapped the long corner taken by Ranjana Chanu. Hemolata Devi doubled the lead sending the Manipur bench in a delirium on 67 minutes.
Towards the end of the match, Daya Devi almost found their fourth goal but Monika saved it again to keep the scoreline unchanged. Skipper Hemolata Devi scored a blinder in the last minute of the added time to take the score line beyond Haryana girls‘ reach.
(Report courtesy AIFF Media / Photo courtesy FAO)