Derails Railways for a fairy tale finish to its memorable campaign

Mizoram gave a fairy-tale finishing to its most successful campaign in the senior National football championship by towering over former champion Railways 3-0 in the final and annexed the maiden Santosh Trophy in style.

Making its first appearance in the final on Sunday, Mizoram conquered a diffident start to overpower a well-prepared Railways and gifted a big gathering of its passionate supporters here at the Kanchenjungha Stadium a memorable evening.

Mizoram put up the best performance of the tournament. Playing the lead role in its triumph was Mizo captain Zico Zoremsanga who scored once in each half. F. Lalrinpuia scored the third goal in the injury-time to complete the dominance of the tiny North-Eastern State known for its passion for the sport.

Mizoram gained from the efficiency of a good counter attack and took the lead much against the run of play in the opening session. Zoremsanga once again proved his competence in the striking zone as he made a spectacular finish to give Mizoram the crucial lead just on the verge of interval (44th minute).

The Mizoram captain exploited a gap in the opponent’s defence, which seemed to relax its vigil with the half-time approaching, as he received a neat cross from the right- winger Lalbiakhlua and slotted the ball home with a sharp turn that foxed Ehtesham Ahmed at the Railways goal.

Railways commanded a greater share of ball control and created a few good openings to put Mizoram on the defensive for a good part of the opening half. However, the Railwaymen could not find finish well which ultimately proved their undoing. Strikers P.C. Riju and S. Rajesh came close to scoring once each in the first half but their efforts were nixed, first by a Mizoram defender and then by the crosspiece.

Playing like a true champion Mizoram found the insurance goal in the first quarter of the second half. Zoremsanga, who played as the lone striker in Mozoram’s 4-1-4-1 formation, rose to the occasion once again when he was set up yet again by Lalbiakhlua on a speedy-counter attack from the right. The Mizoram captain chugged into the Railways box before finding the net with ease in the 61st minute.

Even as Mizoram was preparing to celebrate its maiden triumph, Lalrinpuia finished another fine attack from the right to give a perfect ending to the team’s venture.

Making the win all the more memorable was the fact that Mizoram accomplished a perfect record — winning all the nine matches it played since the zonal qualifiers.

The result: Final: Mizoram 3 (Zico Zoremsanga 44, 61, F. Lalrinpuia 90+1) bt Railways 0.

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