| Referee Maria Rebello, on Sunday, makes it clear to an MP footballer that she will not tolerate any play acting. A Telegraph picture |
Calcutta: The setting was not grand but still the few who gathered at the Howrah Stadium, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, was witness to a historic feat in Indian football. And it was not because of the 22 players of Delhi and Madhya Pradesh who were fighting it out in a Cluster V match of the Santosh Trophy.
It was, rather, the person with the whistle — referee Maria Rebello — who became the first female to officiate a national level match, that made the occasion special.
However, the match in itself was not as inspiring.From wayward passing to better co-ordination between the midfield and upfront — that transformation at the change of ends scripted Delhis success story on Sunday.
A new-look Delhi in the second half outclassed Madhya Pradesh 3-1 to advance to the pre-quarters where they will face Chhattisgarh, who beat Haryana 5-1 on the day.
Delhi, in fact, had begun the match with a bang as they went into the lead with a thunderous strike from David Ngaihte in the fourth minute of the match.
Onemove, in the 18th minute, saw Gaiguiba Thangal run down the left flank and keep a neat cross in the box for Javed Manihar to tap it in.
However, Delhi picked up the pieces in the second half and in the 56th minute, Bhuvan Joshi struck through neat placement after Mohinder Singh set him up. Delhi rounded off the tally in the last minute of play when Vikas Rawats powerful long-ranger had enough venom to beat Madhya Pradesh keeper Kamal Ahir.
Delhi: Pronoy Roy, Anil Bari, Bijender Bhardwaj, Bhuvan Joshi, Monu Choudhary, David Ngaihte (Saurav Patra, 77th), Ashish Pandey, Vikas Rawat, Amjad Ali Khan (Golmei Akhonmei, 61st), Puspendra kundu, Tushim Mashangva (Mohinder Singh, 51st)
Madhya Pradesh: Kamal Ahir, Naveen Tomar, Manish Sepahi, Vinod Mourya, Roniso Choitam, Ashish Pillay (Diwakar Thapa, 63rd), Santosh Rajak, Thangkin, Javed Manihar, Neelesh Pillay (Zeeshan Khan, 85th), Gaiguiba Thangal
Referee: Maria Rebello
In the other Cluster V match, at the Mohun Bagan ground, Uttar Pradesh were too strong for Arunachal Pradesh as they won 7-2. Budhiram Soren netted a hattrick for the winners.
Chhattisgarh, in a Cluster VI match, at the Khardah Stadium, humbled Haryana with Daniela Paupu getting a brace.