Women Football: Manipur Police in Semifinals, Cuttak FC keeps hopes alive
Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Striker Bala Devi fired three goals as Manipur Police trounced FC Kolhapur City 7-1 to storm into the semifinals while SAI-STC Cuttack piped Bangalore United FC 1-0 to keep their hopes alive for the last-four berth in the Hero Indian Women Football league in Ludhiana on Tuesday.
Apart from Bala Devi other goal scorers for Manipur were Irom Prameshwori Devi (2) Pramodini Chanu and Daya Devi (one each)
Manipur started on aggressive note and went 2-0 up in the first 15 minutes itself, with Iron Prameshwori Devi and Bala Devi being the goal scorers.
Kolhapur retaliated and their Nigerian forward Crystal Eke broke the offside trap, dummied Manipur keeper Roshini Devi, and walked the ball into the goal. (1-2)
However, Manipur took two-goal lead again as Bala Devi scored another right on the stroke of half time.(3-1)
Manipur dominated the second by playing a highly effective offside trap. Daya Devi added a fourth for Manipur when Bala played her into space on the right and the former beautifully chipped Kolhapur keeper Gyurme Dolma Tamang.
The Winners added two more goals thanks to Bala Devi, who dribbled past three players and laid it off for Salam Pramodini Devi to fire it past the keeper. A couple of minutes later, Bala scored her third goal to complete the rout
In other match Deepa Nayak converted a penalty late in the second half to earn the three points for SAI, after the side from Odisha suffered a 0-10 loss against Manipur Police SC in their first game.
Jsyoti Kumari was awarded the Player of the Match for her gutsy display in defence.
Bangalore United started off the game at a high tempo, enjoying long bouts of possession, as they pushed the likes of Paromita Sit and UK forward Tanvie Hans up front. While Sit led the line, Hans dropped back to pick up the ball and spray it around the park.
SAI, however, defended resolutely till the end of the first half, and came out with more purpose in the second. India U-18 international Soni Behera played a crucial role in the middle of the park, aiding the defence to thwart the Bangalore attacks.
Their plan worked perfectly and a counter attack with a little under a quarter-of-an-hour left, when a hand ball inside the Bengaluru box by Sivasankari Arumugam resulted in a penalty for SAI, which was duly converted by Deepa Nayak.