Unprecedented enthusiasm, packed stadiums, top-quality football and a successful defending champion: The Maharashtra Inter District Football Championship in Jalgaon took the feminine side of the world’s most popular sport to a whole new level and will remain forever in the memory.
After a pompous and skookum opening ceremony which had folk dance, skit on women empowerment, all the teams were enthralled to a rapturous welcome by the crowd.
The tournament’s opening match was played between the home team, Jalgaon and Gondia in which Gondia edged the home team by a solitary goal to win the match 1-0. This was followed by a thrashing of Dhule by Pune. Pune looked dominant from the very start and took control of the game by bamboozling Dhule by 7 goals and not letting them have any control in the game.
The fans and supporters were in for a goal fest as Nagpur rolled over Jalna and scored 8 goals to no reply. The last match of the day was played between Thane and Osmanabad where Thane showed their might and took Osmanabad by the scruff to win 4-1.
Mumbai went into the quarter final brimming with confidence as they sought to become the competition’s most successful team outright. They lived up to their billing and they ran out comfortable winners against a lethargic Satara team winning the match by 4 goals to 1.
In the other quarter final Nagpur beat Amravati 3-0 and Pune won by 5 goals against Thane to book their place in the Semi-finals along with Mumbai.
The fans were in for a fantastic display of football when Gondia took on Kolhapur for the last place in the semi-finals. Gondia again showed their resilience and fighting spirit to win the match 1-0 and send Kolhapur crashing out of the competition.
The defending champions took on Pune in a classic fight for the bragging rights to come out on top and win the match 2-0. Mumbai dominated the match right from the off to stamp their authority on the competition portraying a refreshing brand of attacking football and were met with critical acclaim for their sumptuous technique and creative build-up play.
Gondia, a team full of surprises continued their winning run in the competition when they scored the opening goal and sloppy play with a lapse in concentration allowed Nagpur to get into the game to force it into penalties. Ultimately Gondia held their nerve in the shoot-out to claim the win and storm into the finals.
The Final was set up between The Defending Champions v/s The Dark Horses. Mumbai true to their title credentials took the lead in the 1st half and killed off the game to win the match by a solitary goal. This has now set a benchmark for the other teams as Mumbai remains the #1 team in Maharashtra.