A spectacular strike by skipper Bala Devi helped Manipur pip Railways 1-0 to seal their second consecutive Senior Women’s National Football Championships title at the CHF Ground in Pasighat on Tuesday.
Bala signed off as the highest scorer of the tournament with 21 goals from six matches while Manipur’s Panthoi Chanu was bestowed with the best goalkeeper award.
Daya Devi, who scored seven goals in the last two matches, got the first chance of the game in the second minute but Railways goalkeeper Swarnamayee Samal parried it away.
Railways wingers Mamta and Sanju continued to keep the Manipur defenders on their toes and the latter could have found the back of the net inside the first 10 minutes but missed the target by a whisker.
After the hour-mark, Manipur shifted gear and earned back-to-back opportunities only to see them intercepted by India skipper Ashalata Devi and Manisha Panna.
Finally, in the 67th minute, following a melee inside the Railways box, Bala unleashed a right-footed shot to score the first and only goal of the match.
Manipur survived a scare in the 75th minute when Bina Devi’s untimely challenge brought Sanju down at the edge of the box. Kamala took the resulting free-kick only to see it sail over the crossbar.
Railways threw the kitchen sink towards the end but the Manipur defenders saw off the danger with much composure to seal the win.