New Delhi, September 19: It was, indeed, a misfortune that only one of the Manipur teams could have made it to the semifinals of the 56th Subroto Cup Football Tournament at the Ambedkar Stadium here today.
And that happened to be Bijang Loubuk Junior High School from Churachandpur, who blanked out Delhi’s Mamta Modern School (Vikas Puri) 6-0, while the second outfit from Imphal, Sainik School, went down 2-4 to Irtiglal High School from Afghanistan in the Sub-Junior Boys (Under-14) section.
Today’s winners will meet in the first semifinal on Monday at 2 p.m. and the second will see Chawngfianga Middle School from Mizoram crossing swords against West Bengal’s Jatragachi Pranabanand High School (Ghuni) at 3.30 p.m.
It was very contrasting quarterfinals one witnessed today because the first Manipur team Bijang boys made it a completely one-sided affair against Delhi’s Mamta Modern while the second fearing Sainik School against Afghanistan’s Irtiglal was not only gripping but pushed the spectators to the edge of the seat. And the Imphal side fought very valiantly, though they could never match the game plan of the Afghan boys. In the end, the Irtiglal boys deservingly earned the semifinal berth.
But the Sainik boys would be rueful that they, despite dominating most of the latter part of the second half, could not go out winners. In contrast, the boys from Kabul had a calculated attack and managed to score twice in each half, keeping themselves always in the game. On the other hand, the Imphal boys were too depended on striker Rohit Leman and that put paid to their ambitions. It is another matter that Leman reduced the margin for them with both the goals, first in the 40th minute and the second in the 46th.
However, it was Irtiglal boys who opened their account in the fourth minute through Rashid and Shabit consolidated their position with a goal in the 13th minute. On changing sides, Farshad made it 3-0. Only seven minutes later Leman struck his first goal for the Manipur side. But Rashid added one more to his tally three minutes later, making it too difficult for the Imphal boys even though Leman scored soon after.
Unlike the Imphal boys, the school from Churachandpur did not have to sweat it out much against placid Vikas Puri schoolboys. The entire action was on one half and the Manipur boys went about the task in a well coordinated manner with both long and short passes with no worthwhile response coming from Mamta Modern School.
So much so, Bijang boys struck in the third minute of play through Peter and followed it up with a goal from Jehova in the nineteenth. But their return after break saw Haokip controlling the midfiled and finding gaps in the opponent’s goal with four strikes (28m, 34, 40, 48)—all neatly placed beyond the reach of Mamta goalie.
As the Under-14 Boys event nearing the business end, the stage is also set for the first set of Under-17 girls quarterfinals tomorrow. With two northeastern teams in fray along with the Hazaribagh and Bhiwani girls it will be interesting which of the two teams enter semifinals.
Under-17 Girls 1st QF: NCC, Manipur vs Hazaribagh Higher Secondary School, Jharkhand, 2.30 p.m.; 2nd QF: Myngken Higher Sec School, Meghalaya, vs Government Senior Secondary School, Haryana 4 p.m. (both at Ambedkar Stadium).