The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Manipur tame Bengal to retain title

Chennai: Manipur retained the national women’s football championship title, scoring an emphatic 2-0 win over Bengal in the final on Tuesday.

Manipur scored once in each half through Manitombi Devi and A. Sakhtitombi Devi.

In the 11-year history of the championship, Manipur have now won the title nine times while appearing in all the previous finals. Bengal have won the title twice.

Tuesday’s win caps Manipur’s fine run in national football championship. The state had earlier won the Santosh Trophy and claimed the junior men’s nationals title early last year.

Manipur took the field without their star striker, the 14-year-old Bala Devi, sitting out after having received two yellow cards.

The fact that Bengal forwards took just one shot at the Manipur goal speaks volume about the holders’ authoritative display in the match.

Sakhtitombi, who took Bala’s place, played the pivot and was instrumental in her side taking the lead.

From the beginning, Manipur link women, Lokeshwari Devi and Dhanapati Chanu and Manipur went ahead in the fourth minute.

Receiving a long pass from Lokeshwari, Sakhtitombi sped down the left. Defenders Enakshi Biswas and Jayanti Barui came forward to challenge but the Manipur striker dodged past them and released the ball for Manitombi to chip it into the net.

Bengal immediately retorted by way of a couple of counter-attacks, but these were nipped in the bud.

In the 50th minute, the Bengal goal fell for the second time following a defence lapse but Sakthitombi should be praised for her opportunism.

Manitombi’s lob from the left was taken by substitute Thoi Devi, who relayed the ball to Sakhtitombi and the latter found no difficulty slotting home.

Later, Tamil Nadu sports minister distributed trophies borrowed by organisers Tamil Nadu Football Association, to Manipur and Bengal. This was done as the AIFF is yet to institute trophies for the women’s meet.

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