Assam outplays Tamil Nadu, enters semifinals
GUWAHATI: Suffering from want of better exposure and lack of adequate self-belief, or that's what the coaches would like to have us believe, the North Eastern States have not really excelled in the field of men's football as a State unit, barring Manipur.
However, the past three days of the National Games here have been a revelation for those who have watched Meghalaya and Assam play.
Both have topped their respective groups with two victories each, thereby assuring themselves of a place in the last four.
On Sunday in the National Games, Meghalaya continued its giant-killing act, scripting a 4-1 win over a strong West Bengal while host Assam defeated Tamil Nadu 2-0.
Making its football debut in the Games, Meghalaya, after upsetting defeating champion Punjab in its opening match, came up with yet another good performance.
Comprising players mostly from Lajong SC, which has qualified for the NFL II division league, Meghalaya won, riding on two brilliant strikes by Niwan-O-Gatphoh.
Niwan turned the match on its head, which was till then was, more or less, going on an even keel. Taking a long ball, Niwan's cracking right-footer from around 20 yards zoomed into the net.
Bengal equalised in the second session. Snehasis Chakraborty who has had a good outing so far, served a curving long cross from the left and an unmarked Gouranga Dutta jumped higher than goalkeeper Markush Basumatar to head home.
Towards the closing stages Meghalaya showed better co-ordination and agility inside the box. Niwan's conversion, a long-range shot, this time from 10 yard set the tempo. A 2-1 lead provided a sense of confidence. Within a span of two minutes, Meghalaya scored twice through Lyngsing and Romeo. "We have been preparing the team for NFL. Our intention here was to give our best," said coach Shangpliang.
Watched by a good holiday crowd, Assam outplayed Tamil Nadu which surprisingly lacked purpose and cohesion. Assam tricked Tamil Nadu for the first goal. Durga Boro chipped a free kick to Dhanachandra Singh, who completed the shot on half-volley. Ajit Singh scored in the dying minutes of the match to complete the tally.
The results: Football: Men: Meghalaya 4 (Niwan-O-Gatphoh 2, Lyngsing, Romeo) bt West Bengal 1 (Gouranga Dutta); Assam 2 (Dhanachandra Singh, Ajit Singh) bt TN 0.
Women: Manipur 1 (Manitombi Devi Sandham) drew with Orissa 1 (Alochana Senapati); Assam 1 (Ngoubi Devi Kshetri Mayum) bt TN 0.