Junior girls' National Championship: Gujarat aims to continue fairy tale run

Gujarat takes on Jharkhand in the first semifinal, which will be followed by Haryana's clash against Himachal Pradesh.

Jharkhand eased into the semifinals with a comfortable 4-0 win over the three-time champion and last year's runner-up Manipur. (file photo)   -  AIFF MEDIA

Gujarat will look to continue its fairy tale run and claim a maiden final berth when it takes on Jharkhand in the semifinal of the junior girls' National Football Championship at the Polo Ground here on Monday.

Featuring two sides that display completely contrasting styles of play, the tie promises to be a classic battle of defence versus attack. Gujarat boasts a rock-solid defence that is yet to concede a goal in three matches, while the Jharkhand side has been in ravishing form, hammering a staggering 35 goals in three matches — including a 21-0 thrashing of Jammu and Kashmir in the group stage.

What makes Jharkhand such a formidable opposition is that while the goals have come in abundance, the side also secured clean sheets in all of its games.

While the two teams' style of football is contrasting, so was their passage to the last-four stage. Jharkhand eased into the semis with a comfortable 4-0 win over the three-time champion and last year's runner-up Manipur, while Gujarat scraped through after scoring an injury-time winner against Mizoram. 

Gujarat has a gargantuan task ahead and will have to be particularly cautious of Jharkhand's star striker Sumati Kumari, who leads the goal-scoring charts with a whopping 15 goals.

The second semifinal will see a rampaging Haryana face Himachal Pradesh. The Haryana team comes into the game on the high of eliminating defending champion Tamil Nadu in the quarters, while Himachal Pradesh cruised to a 4-0 win over Odisha. Not much separates the two sides as they've both seen their fair share of goals and are yet to concede, and it appears to be a game that will be decided by the slightest of margins.

The fixtures:

Semifinal 1: Jharkhand vs Gujarat (7.15 am)

Semifinal 2: Haryana vs Himachal Pradesh (4 pm)

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