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Odisha emerge champions in Sub-Junior National Championships

The Odisha juniors celebrating their Sub-Junior National Championship title. (Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)
The Odisha juniors celebrating their Sub-Junior National Championship title. Photo courtesy: AIFF Media

The Sub-Junior National Championships came to an end with Odisha taking running away with the top awards by dint of the dreaded penalty shootouts, beating hosts Arunachal Pradesh 5-4 on penalties, after the match ended 0-0.

With this win, the eastern state completed the tournament without losing a single match.

Odisha, who were placed in Group A, alongside Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Punjab, and runners-up Arunachal Pradesh, came out with flying colours in the group stage. They beat Tamil Nadu 3-0, Maharashtra 4-2, hosts Arunachal Pradesh 1-0, and got a 1-1 draw against Punjab.

These sequence of results pitted them against the second-placed team from Group B – Jharkhand – in the semifinal. In a derby between the two neighbouring states from the eastern regions of the country, Odisha maintained the upper hand over Jharkhand, winning by a convincing 6-2 margin.

Meanwhile, hosts Arunachal Pradesh had also shown great promise in a tournament where their team was buoyed by the surging crowd that registered upwards of 10,000-12,000 fans every match. They beat Maharashtra 1-0, Punjab 1-0, and Tamil Nadu 9-1, before losing to eventual winners Odisha in the last Group stage match.

After overcoming heavyweights Mizoram in the semifinals, the hosts gave a tough fight to Odisha in the final, but fell one short in the penalty shootout.

(AIFF Media)