Manipur look to defend crown against Railways in Senior Women’s NFC final

Defending champion Manipur will look to put up another superlative performance when it faces familiar foes Railways in the final of the 125th Hero Senior Women’s National Football Championship here on Thursday.

Both sides were taken to penalty shootouts by their respective semi-final opponents where Manipur defeated Odisha and Railways edged past Mizoram.

It is the fourth final between the two teams with Manipur having the last laugh in the last edition.

Twenty-time title winners Manipur have been on a rampage, scoring an astounding 27 goals so far.

However, Bembem Devi, the head coach of Manipur, don’t want to take its opponents lightly and is wary of its opponent’s strength.

“Railways are a very experienced side. When I used to play against them, they have always been strong opponents. We are going to have to be tough and competitive,” said Bembem Devi, a Padma Shri awardee.

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“We have played against them last year in the finals and will go all out to maintain our title again and make our state proud. The girls are very motivated and want to fight till the last whistle,” said Bembem Devi.

Railways, after topping its group with 20 goals, had to grind it out against a competitive Mizoram side in the semi-final and has set up a fourth final against Manipur.

Railways head coach Kamlakanta Singh seemed fully aware of the size of the task it faces on Wednesday.

“My players are fighters, and will keep going until the end,” he said.

“Manipur is rich in football culture and I respect them a lot. But we won’t take any pressure going onto the pitch. We are very confident of playing a good game of football.”

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