Maharashtra’s (WIFA) women team put up a brilliant display to hold Sikkim to a 1-1 draw in the concluding Group-E in Kozhikode on Friday, and in doing so, entered the quarterfinal of the AIFF Senior Women's National Football Championship for the first time ever.
Striker Trupti Deep of Gondia District scored for Maharashtra before Sikkim scored the equalsier through Suju Hangma Limbo to share the spoils.
Both Maharashtra and Sikkim finished with 7 points each. But Maharashtra with a better goal-differential of plus 8 (GF 9, GA 1) as compared to Sikkim’s plus 7 (GF 8, GA 1) topped the group and qualified for the quarterfinals. Maharashtra will meet Mizoram who topped Group-G in the next round on Sunday.
Both Maharashtra and Sikkim showed positive intent and opted to play an open attacking game and there was plenty of goalmouth action at either end but the scoreboard stayed blank at the end of the first half.
After the first session ended goalless Maharashtra’s dashing striker Trupti Deep found the net from an Akanksha Kandalkar assist in the 62nd minute to bring cheer in her camp. However, Maharashtra was unable to hold on to the lead as five minutes later the fighting Sikkim side restored parity through Suju Hangma Limbo’s strike.
Maharashtra goalkeeper Anjali Barke also had an excellent day under the bar and made some timely saves from one-on-one situations to ensure her team conceded just one goal.