There was no stopping the Manipur juggernaut as they downed reigning champions Orissa 3-1 in a lopsided summit clash of the 20th Women’s National Championship for the 17th time at the Golaghat Stadium here Monday.
Goals at the beginning of the first and second period from Bala Devi and one from iconic India player Oinam Bembem Devi sealed the issue for Manipur.
Orissa reduced the arrears in the dying minutes of the tie courtesy substitute Sakina Nesa’s close-range prod but it was too little too late for the defending champions.
Manipur’s last win came in 2010. An elated Bembem, who led the side to the triumph, said though the win looked facile, the young girls of Orissa, mostly U-19 and playing for the first time, showed verve and a lot of promise.
“It was a good win. I am really happy to end a fairly good campaign on a high but more importantly I would like to point out that the future stars who played in Orissa colours today have a lot of potential.”
Manipur indeed took the game by the scruff of the neck from the word go. As routine as attending office Monday morning, Manipur, comprising mostly national team players, did the job like going through the drills in a training session.
But the Orissa girls did not cow down amidst stupendous pressure. The defending champions in fact scored a late goal and could have added another which would have brought the match alive in the dying minutes.