Manipur challenge for Delhi girls, Orissa face Jharkhand

Golaghat: Seeking to reach their maiden final, first-timers Delhi will lock horns with heavyweights Manipur, while Jharkhand take on Orissa in semifinals of the 20th Women`s National Championships here tomorrow.

Delhi have been the surprise element of the nationals with their superlative performance against the likes of two-time champions West Bengal and stronger opponents like Kerala and Bihar.

"We are pinching ourselves," team captain and India striker Jyoti Ann Burret said.

"It`s been a valiant effort for us to reach this far overcoming the likes of Bengal. The Team gelled really well and we stuck to a plan. We can draw a lot of inspiration from this effort," she added.

According to the 24-year old marksman, Delhi Coach Paritosh Sharma`s `modern outlook` has played a vital part in the team success.

"He is a very modern Coach with the latest training methods. He has put in a lot of effort to play in a certain style and that had clicked for us."

Jyoti, who was part of India`s AFC Asian Cup Squad last year, has so far scored three goals so far in the tournament with a brace against Bihar.

Delhi take on 16-time champions Manipur in the semifinals and Jyoti feels the job at hand is enormous.

"Manipur are a top side. Their record in the Tournament speaks for itself. It will be baptism by fire for us. But I feel the fact that there were no expectations from us as such helped a great deal and it will be the same in the semis."

The capital state women`s team, whose best finish in the nationals was back in 2003-04 when they reached the quarterfinals, remained unbeaten throughout the group matches.

National women`s team coach Anadi Barua stated the "exuberance of youth" is helping Delhi a lot.

"They are a wonderful bunch of girls. It`s so heartening to see them combining well on the field," he said.

In the other semifinal of the day, both Jharkhand and Defending Champions Orissa will look to seal a berth in the summit clash. Both the outfits have kept clean slates going into the last-four tie.

In fact, both are yet to end on the wrong side of the spectrum with Orissa triumphing in all their matches and Jharkhand dropping only two points from their quota of five matches.

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