Women's National Football Championship: Manipur beats Railways, claims 21st title

The women from the North-East made it 21 out of 26 at the National senior football championship on Thursday. They defeated Railways in a final that failed to produce a goal in 120 minutes.

Manipur women celebrating their victory at the National senior football championship.   -  K. RAGESH

Manipur made it 21 out of 26 at the National senior football championship on Thursday. It defeated Railways in a final that failed to produce a goal in 120 minutes.

The players on either side had so forgotten how to put the ball into the net, they struggled to do it even from the penalty spot in the shoot-out. Railways struggled more as it finished runner-up for the second time in a row.

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Fine work

The Railways women converted only one of their kicks. That had more to do with poor shooting, but they were denied also by some fine work by the Manipur custodian Okram Roshini Devi, who emerged as her team’s heroine.

She didn’t have to do anything spectacular, though, to stop the last kick from Railways. Suprava Samal’s kick was gentle and straight at her; she gathered it after a bit of a fumble.

It took some time before her teammates realised that the match was over and the trophy was theirs. They may have needed the shoot-out to win their 21st title — and they were runner-up on four occasions — but this was a remarkable performance still, for they were without many of their main players, who are away on national duty.

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They had more reasons to celebrate at the closing ceremony; Roshini was named the tournament’s best goalkeeper and captain Irom Prameshwori Devi, the most valuable player.

The result (final):

Manipur bt Railways 2-1 on penalties (0-0 in normal time).

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