Panaji: The fight for the semi-final spots from Group A in the Women’s Football event of the National Games was a truly thrilling affair at the Tilak Maidan in Goa on Tuesday night.
In the Manipur versus Tamil Nadu match, all that the national champions, Tamil Nadu, were to do was hold on for a draw to make the last four. They almost completed their task but could do little against Manipur’s sudden onslaught in the dying minutes.
In the 90th minute, N Sibani Devi put Manipur in the lead, and then L Babina Devi struck four minutes into the add-on time to give her team a 2-0 victory. Manipur grabbed the second spot in the group behind Bengal to enter the semi-finals with six points.
In the day’s first match, Bengal edged Jharkhand 3-2 in a closely contested encounter to top the group with seven points. While Rimpa Haldar (34’), Mousumi Murmu (53’), and Devneta Roy (88’) scored for Bengal, Lalita Boypai (55’) and Kusma Kispota (16’) were Jharkhand’s scorers.
In the men’s football at Fatorda, Maharashtra produced a late flourish to hold Kerala to a 2-2 draw in a Group B match.
Kerala were sitting comfortably with the two goals they scored before halftime through Nuo Gilbert and Muhammed Ashiq Shoukathali. But Maharashtra woke up from their slumber late in the match as Mandeep Singh Multani and Yash Shukla scored in the 79th and 84th minutes to return home with a point in their kitty.
In the other Group B match, two goals by Thiyam Chingkheinganba and Wangkheimayum Sadananda Singh helped Manipur beat Meghalaya 2-1. Donald Diengdoh reduced the margin for the losers.
The second semi-final of the beach soccer tournament was worth the spectators’ money, as hosts Goa and Lakshadweep were involved in a grim battle in the evening. While Goa had the last laugh with a 7-5 victory, Lakshadweep fought gallantly before going down.
Pedro Antonio Gonsalves was Goa’s hero with four goals, while Carl Joshua Dsouza (2) and Kashinath Subhash Rathod were the other scorers. Aboohuraira (2), Mirsad (2), and Mohammed Tahir scored for Lakshadweep.
Goa will now cross swords with national champions Kerala in the final on Wednesday. Kerala continued their impressive run with a resounding 11-3 victory over Punjab.
Musheer TKB (3), Suhail U (3), Ali Akbar AP (2), Basith KP, Rohith Y and Muhammed Unais were Kerala’s marksmen. Harish Tiwari (2) and Azadwinder managed Punjab’s three goals.