Chandigarh girls stun Manipur to clinch maiden sub-junior football titleNovember 7, 2017
Taking inspiration from the Indian women’s hockey team’s Asia Cup victory, Chandigarh girls entered the record books by clinching their maiden All India Football Federation Sub-Junior Football Championship at Imphal on Monday.
The Chandigarh girls overcame pitiable boarding and lodging facilities provided by the All Manipur Football Association, before finding solace in a local gurudwara to win the title.
The Chandigarh team, led by Kavita, stunned hosts Manipur at their own backyard, recording a 3-1 win at the Imphal Sports Complex to lift the title. Anju emerged as the star as she scored two goals while Pooja scored one goal for the victorious Chandigarh team.
Interestingly, not a single goal was scored against Chandigarh in any of the previous matches and it was only in the final that they conceded a goal.
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After winning the first league match against Uttar Pradesh 5-0, Chandigarh entered the knock-out stage and ousted Utar Pradesh 3-0 to surge ahead. Thereafter, Chandigarh routed Bihar 11-0 in quarterfinals and snuffed out the challenge of defending champions Odisha 3-0 in the semifinals to secure a place in the final.
“The girls were inspired from the Indian women team’s Asia Cup victory ahead of the football final. They thought if India could beat the fancied China in the final, Chandigarh could also rattle last year’s finalists Manipur. They maintained the focus and aimed for a win in the final,” said Chandigarh team’s coach Manish Kumar, who praised Anju’s efforts in the tournament. The 14-year-old scored 11 goals in the five matches, including a twin strike in the final.
“We were the underdogs in the tournament. So, there was no pressure on the team. The fact that the team was well prepared gave us the impetus coming in the tournament. The team attended two 15-day long preparatory camps in Chandigarh for the Sub-Junior Football Championship. This win will give a push to the sport at grass root level,” added Amit Kapoor, Chandigarh Football Association joint secretary.
Anju scored the first goal for Chandigarh in the final in the 37th minute to give a lead. The lead was extended in the second half by 2-0 through a goal scored by Pooja. Anju continued the fine-run and scored another goal in the 87th minute to make it 3-0 in Chandigarh’s favour. Manipur did score in the dying minutes of the match, (91st minute) but that was not enough to stop Chandigarh from becoming champions.
Seven make India U-14 camp
Taking note of Chandigarh girls’ performance in the Sub-Junior Football Championship, the All India Football Federation selected six players from the winning team for an Indian team camp to be held in Kolkata from November.
Selected players: Kavita, Anju, Poonam, Manisha, Pooja, Kiran, Varsha and Tanu (Standby).