Jharkhand to play HP in final
Kolhapur: Jharkhand and Himachal Pradesh will clash in the final of All India Football Federation (AIFF) Junior Girls’ National Football Championship 2019-20, as they registered victories over Gujarat and Haryana in their respective semifinal matches played at the Polo Ground in Kolhapur on Monday.
Jharkhand made their way into the final with an easy win against Gujarat, thanks to three strikes in the first half and Himachal Pradesh scored a solitary goal win over rivals Haryana.
Sumati Kumari, who already had 15 goals in three games so far, registered her 16th of the competition for Jharkhand, in the sixth minute of the game, after a cross by her from the left flank flew straight into the net.
Just three minutes later, Jharkhand doubled their lead with a neat goal by Sumati as the striker showed incredible guile to place a low cross from the right flank into the bottom corner with her first touch – leaving the keeper with no chance.
Buoyed by the early advantage, Jharkhand continued to dominate proceedings but the Gujarat defense stood its ground well and denied any clear goal-scoring opportunities. However, in the second minute of
added time at the first half, the score line was extended by Jharkhand – with Sumati claiming an assist this time around. She danced her way into the penalty area and got past two defenders as she raced through on goal. Approaching the keeper, she squared the ball to onrushing midfielder Astam Oraon, who comfortably tapped it home.
Jharkhand continued to have a grip of the game in the second half but did not add to the score line. Their best chance fell to Salomi Minj at the hour-mark but her header from the six-yard line was straight at the keeper.
With 10 minutes to play, Astam was inches away from finding the net with a shot from distance but her effort went wide as the game ended 3-0.
In the earlier match, the first half, between the two northern neighbours ended goalless.
Haryana looked to hit on the counter and through set pieces, and midway through the first half, they almost got the opening goal after a free-kick from the left flank led to a goalmouth scramble which was cleared away at the
last moment by the Himachal defense.
After the break, the match became an end-to-end affair immediately and Manisha had a golden chance to score in the first attack of the half but her shot on the run was off target. In the 58th minute, Haryana’s Raveena had a shot saved by Himachal keeper Manisha and 12 minutes later, Rajni Bala’s shot hit the side netting.
As the match looked to be heading into extra time, the deadlock was finally broken through Himachal’s Poonam. Making an interception in midfield, she made her way into the box after beating a couple of defenders and headed the ball past the keeper to secure a 1-0 win for her side and ensure a spot in the final.