Manipur claimed victory in the final of the 24th Senior Women’s National Football Championships, defeating hosts Odisha in the summit clash on Monday by a 2-1 margin in Cuttack. The result marked the 19th occasion that the state from the north-east of India won the trophy, having lost out in the final to Tamil Nadu last time around.
Both sides came into the final off the backs of two hard-fought matches in the semifinals. Manipur had got the better of the Railways team 4-3 in a penalty shootout as the match ended goalless after extra time. On the other hand, Odisha defeated defending champions Tamil Nadu in a thrilling match that ended 4-3, with the hosts finding the winner in extra time.
The final, held at the Barabati Stadium, was a nail-biting affair. After a tense start, it appeared as if the first half would end goalless but it was Manipur who took the lead thanks to captain Bala Devi, who found the net in the 45th minute. Soon after the break, Irom Prameshwori Devi doubled her team’s lead with a goal in the 50th minute.
The hosts continued to strive for a comeback and found a goal with nine minutes to play via midfielder Arati Sethi. However, Manipur defended well to hold on for the win and went on to lift the trophy.