Tamil Nadu beat Manipur 2-1 to lift their maiden title in the 23rd edition of the Senior Women’s National Football Championship 2017-18 at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack today, February 14.
Tamil Nadu created history by becoming Champions in their first ever final with Indumathi scoring the opener in the 3rd minute while Indrani made it 2-0 in the 40th. Ratanbala scored the lone goal for Manipur in the 57th. Indumathi was also adjudged the Player of the Final as well as the Tournament for her superlative performances.
Tamil Nadu took the lead straightaway when Indumathi drilled it past the keeper in the 3rd minute. The Manipuri defence was caught napping as Indumathi broke through the middle to go past a couple of defenders to score the opener.
Shaken up by the early deficit, the Manipur side sprung to life as they drove forward in numbers. Wave after wave of attacks followed but the Tamil Nadu backline held on. Manipur were also unlucky as Bala Devi struck the post in the 25th minute while Ratanbala’s shot went straight to the keeper a minute later.
With the game reaching the half an hour mark, the defending champions began to frantically look for the equaliser. Playing a much higher line than usual, the team left themselves susceptible to counter attacks.
With half-time approaching Tamil Nadu struck once again in the 40th minute. Indhrani converting from Indumathi’s ball into the box to double the lead as the teams headed into half-time soon after.
In the second half too Tamil Nadu were quick to come off the gates as Nandhini found herself one-on-one against the goalkeeper, but Panthoi was on hand to thwart the effort. Indumathi had a shot of her own soon after but it flew just over the crossbar.
With two back to back opportunities gone to waste, Tamil Nadu were caught off guard as Ratanbala pulled one back on the counter for Manipur in the 57th minute. The goal had a revitalising effect as Manipur clawed themselves back into the game.
With total control the ball, the game was limited to the Tamil Nadu half as Manipur went in search for their second goal. Their opponents had a golden chance in the 66th to put the match to bed as Nandhini once again found herself with an open net. But Panthoi rushed out to snatch the ball off her feet.
With the minutes ticking away, Tamil Nadu fell back to defend their lead as the trio of Bala-Grace-Ratanbala bombarded the goal, but each time it was kept away as Tamil Nadu held on to create history.
AIFF Vice-President Subrata Dutta who was the Chief Guest at the final congratulated the team on their success, “I congratulate the Tamil Nadu team on winning the Senior Women’s Championship. Their first final and they created history. They were excellent on the field today and certainly deserved to win.”
“I also hope this inspires other teams to come up the way Tamil Nadu have. This proves hard work always pays,” he added.