It was a very important game for Maharashtra when they turned up to play their second Group B league match against a much stronger Goan side in the 54th National School Girls under-19 football championships being held at the Cooperage on Sunday. And if they managed to split points with a 1-1 draw,it was all because of their defender Suchita Patil.
The 17-year-old girl from Kolhapur dived,stretched,stumbled and did everything to deny the rival forwards from seizing the advantage,while effecting about six saves in the process. To top it all,she also scored the equaliser for Maharashtra through a free -kick. I must say we managed a draw simply due to her excellent display, said Malti Pote,coach of the state team. Especially in the last 15 minutes or so,we were under tremendous pressure,but thanks to Suchita,we came out with an important point, added the coach.
However for,Suchita,however,it was just a daily routine. I spend as much time as possible in practice back home in Kolhapur, informed the lass,who has enough experience playing at this level,having represented Maharashtra in various school-level events on 10 previous occasions.
Goa had some excellent players and I needed to be very alert in the defence, said Suchita. My team was banking on me and I knew I had to deliver to keep our teams hopes alive, said the second-year arts student of the Mahavir College,Kolhapur.
Talking about only goal of the match which she scored,Suchita says it was no big deal for her. I practice about 30 free-kicks everyday and when I got a chance today after one of our players was brought down in the arena,I knew I was not going to miss this one, informed Suchita.
The ground was quite uneven in some places and as a result it became difficult to anticipate the bounce, observed coach Pote. Otherwise,we could have even won the encounter, she felt. Suchita also echoed her coachs opinion. Our finishing was a bit poor or we might have ended on a winning note, she chipped in.
Suchita could not start her football career early since the Private High School did not have any football team for girls. When I was in eighth standard,I came to know that they are starting a girls team, states Suchita,who then wasted no time in joining the practice session. I have also played softball at the national school level and I was also a long distance runner, pointed out Suchita,who has in fact had won a 1500 gold medal at a Kolhapur inter-school meet.
Now Maharasthra are set to play their last league match against Haryana tomorrow morning. Having drawn goalless with Punjab in an earlier game,Mondays game has become a do-or-die battle for the state team. We have to win this game to qualify for the last eight stage,which is a knock-out stage, informed coach Pote. But any team needs at least a gap of 24 hours between the two matches. Im afraid as my team members are too tired, she added.
Meanwhile,Haryana enhanced their chances of making it to the quarter-finals following a 1-0 win over Punjab in another Group B tie. Manpreet Kaur scored the winner as Haryana have now collected four points from a win and a draw.
Andhra Pradesh crashed out of the competition after being crushed by Chhatisgarh 0-7 for their second defeat in Group D. AP lost to Assam 0-13 on Saturday,allowing Assam and Chhatisgarh an entry into the knock out stage. The top two teams from each of the four groups qualify for the quarter-finals.
Group B: Maharashtra 1 (Suchita Patil) drew Goa 1 (Snehal Morajkar); Haryana 1 (Manpreet Kaur) bt Punjab 0.
Group C: Uttaranchal drew Tamil Nadu 0-0; Chandigarh bt MP 2-0.Group D: Chhatisgarh bt AP 7-0.