Senior Women’s NFC Final Round
Author: Gautam Varier
The 2022-23 Senior Women’s National Football Championship came to an end on the 28th of June, with Tamil Nadu being crowned champions for the second time. The 27th edition had begun all the way back on the 22nd of March with the group stage, which concluded on the 9th of April. 12 of the 32 teams then advanced to the Final Round that commenced on the 14th of June.
We saw some incredible action in that Final round, with the 33 matches producing 102 goals. It was a dead-even split too, with 51 goals being scored in each half. Leading those goalscoring charts in the final round was Tamil Nadu’s Indumathi Kathiresan as she fired them to the title.
Kathiresan (6) and Priyadharshini (4), in particular, did most of their damage in the first half of the games itself. The two of them combined for 10 of the 14 goals that Tamil Nadu scored in the first half in the Final Round.
When it came to the second half, it was Kamala Devi who proved most productive with four goals. She led the way as Railways found the back of the net more often than anyone else in the second period of the games in the Final Round.
The single most important second-half strike, however, would come from the boot of Kathiresan, as she struck the winner from the penalty spot in the 83rd minute of the Final for her third game-winning goal, tied for most in the round.
It ended up being a perfect tournament for Tamil Nadu as they clinched their second title in five years. They won every single game in the group stage and then in the Final Round on their way to the championship.
Repeating as champions will prove to be difficult but in Kathiresan, they have a player who is capable of winning games by herself. She came into this tournament on the back of a strong campaign at the Indian Women’s League, where she was the third-leading scorer, and carried on her good form here.
Tamil Nadu will perhaps get the strongest resistance from Manipur in their quest to go back-to-back. The North Easterners had won a hattrick of titles coming into this edition but failed to even qualify for the semifinals. They are by far the most successful team of this tournament, with 21 titles, and would be desperate to return to the top of the mountain.