SHILLONG, June 15: The Manipur girls’ team got their campaign off to an amazing start with a 7-0 victory over Arunachal Pradesh in Pool A of the Assam Rifles CAPF Under-19 Football Talent Hunt Tournament Phase 2 in Shillong on Thursday afternoon at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
Five of the goals were scored by N Ratanbala Devi, who dominated the forward ground and ran riot amidst the Arunachal defence. The other goal scorers were S Ranjana Chanu and A Roja Devi.
In the earlier game of the day, Mizoram girls defeated Tripura 1-0 in Pool B after a tough contest.
Ranjana netted the opener in the sixth minute of the hour-long match and Manipur doubled their lead in the 20th minute after Ratanbala scored with a long-range strike outside the box.
Just two minutes later Manipur stole the ball away from the Arunachal players and with four attackers pressing and just two defenders left at the back, Ratanbala eased the ball past the oncoming opposition goalkeeper.
Arunachal Pradesh tried their best to get the ball forward and challenge the Manipur defence, but they could rarely break into the opposition half, such was the latter team’s strength on the pitch.
Another two goals were scored before half time, both in the 25th minute. The first came through the No. 10, Roja, who had to battle her way around several defenders before smashing the ball into the back of the net from inside the box.
A few seconds later Ratanbala scored her hat-trick goal with an easy tap-in.
A torrential downpour hit the stadium towards the end of the first half and continued on deep into the second 30 minutes of action.
Arunachal in the second half put up a much more spirited defence, with their goalie producing several brilliant saves to prevent the scoreline from becoming even worse, but there were still two more goals to come from Ratanbala.
The first arrived in the 37th minute when the prolific No. 11 headed in a cross from the right flank. Then, a melee inside the box saw Arunachal’s girls struggle to clear the ball, but Ratanbala managed to latch on to the ball and slot it into the net from very close range in the 51st minute.
In the earlier game, both Tripura and Mizoram will rue plenty of missed chances in the first half, but the latter will be jubilant at claiming the solitary goal of the contest, which was scored by Vanlalhriattiri Bawitlung in the 49th minute.
The only breakthrough came via a free-kick, taken by substitute midfielder Grace H Lalrampari. Producing a good strike from the right, the ball was blocked by Tripura goalie Laxmita Reang, but the rebound fell into the hands of Vanlalhriattiri, who negotiated a high bounce well and knocked the ball into the net.
Friday will see two boys’ games at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
After suffering a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Manipur in Pool B on Wednesday, Meghalaya boys will be back in action, this time against Nagaland, who will be playing their first match, at 1:00PM.
The second fixture will see Mizoram boys take on Tripura in Pool A at 3:30PM. It will be Tripura’s first match. Mizoram had drawn 0-0 with Arunachal Pradesh on Wednesday morning.