United Sikkim misses a winning start. Gauhati Town Club (GTC, Assam) gets a solitary goal victory. And NISA (Manipur) thrashes Golden Threads FC (Kerala) 3-1.
On the day 1 of the I-League Division II preliminary qualifying round on Thursday, 3 Group A matches were played at Guwahati in Assam and 1 Group C match at Madurai in Tamil Nadu. Teams from Northeaster states prevailed in all the matches they played.
Group A saw Simla Youngs from Delhi go down 0-1 to the local side Gauhati Town Club. NISA, Manipur picked up a 3-1 victory over Kerala outfit Golden Threads, while Langsing Sports Club pulled a 2-2 draw against Bhaichung Bhutia’s United Sikkim FC.
In yet another match of Group C in Madurai Techno Aryan Club, West Bengal won by a solitary goal against Eagles FC, Kerala. The lone goal was scored by Stanley Cyprian in the 75′.
United Sikkim FC (USFC) Vs Langsing SC (Meghalaya)
Langsing SC 2-2 United Sikkim
United Sikkim: N.S.Manju (6′,31′);
Langsing: Michael Qchei (15′), R.Lainundunga (71′)
For Baichung Bhutia’s United Sikkim, it was not a dream start at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Guwahati. The Shillong men of Langsning SC gave a tough fight to hold the star-studded United Sikkim to a 2-2 draw. N.S.Manju of USFC struck first as early as the sixth minute but Michael Ochei of Langsning SC converted a penalty kick in the 12th minute to equalise. Manju once again put United Sikkim ahead in the 31st minute but Langsning’s R. Lalnundanga made no mistake in converting a pass from Ochei in the 71st minute.
USFC, though, despite playing its first match in a major tournament did rather well. They could have even won had they converted the opportunities that came their way.
USFC’s star players Baichung Bhutia and Rennedy Singh were already ruled out and Joseph Lapira was not fully match-fit. USFC got another jolt in the morning when they found their Japanese defender Mituski Ichihara down with food poisoning. Only foreign player on the ground was striker Johnny Menyongar.
On the other hand, Langsning fielded all the three foreigners it had and were in attacking mode from the beginning. Still, USFC weren’t bogged down and even took control of proceedings in the beginning. USFC attacked ferociously and created scoring chances but couldn’t convert them into goals.
In the second half Langsning were outstanding as the Sikkim midfielders failed to keep possession. Finally, R Lalnundanga of Langshing shot home a loose ball to equalize in the 71st minute.
Guwahati Town Club (GTC, Assam) Vs Simla Youngs (Delhi)
Simla Youngs 0-1 Gauhati Town Club
Scorer: Rickey Lallawma (8′)
GTC, the only Assam outfit in the tournament had great home advantage against Delhi’s Simla Youngs. Almost all the Nehru Stadium stands were occupied mostly by the GTC supporters. GTC didn’t make them sad. GTC’s Rickey Lallawmawma made no mistake in the 9th minute in receiving a pass from Tomba Singh in the goalmouth and blowing it in to clinch a moral boosting win in their maiden match of the national tournament.
Both the teams, though, squandered many scoring opportunities throughout the match. For the home team Rickey and Ikoroha Christian could have got some goals. The visiting side missed two easy sitters in the early stage. In the second half, Simla Youngs’ PK Singh and Prem Kumar failed to hit the net despite coming close to the scoring zone.
NISA (Manipur) Vs Golden Threads (Kerala)
NISA 3-1 Golden Threads
NISA: L.Nabachandra (6′, 21′), Sanju Vennra (68′);
Golden Threads: N.Rakesh (74′)
North Imphal Sports Association outplayed Golden Thread (Kerala) 3-1 in a one-sided affair at the SAI ground. L Nabachandra scored in the sixth and 21st minutes to put his team ahead by 2-0. In the second session, Golden Thread players tried a comeback when Sanju Vennra of the Kerala team scored a goal in the 68th minute. But N Rakesh of GTC made it 3-1 in the 74th minute and the fate of the match was sealed.
Earlier the tournament was formally inaugurated by former Assam footballer Dr Sarat Dutta. Baichung Bhutia and the Assam U-13 football team, which won the title in the National U-13 Football Festival in Tamil Nadu, recently, were felicitated on the occasion.
Bhutia’s United Sikkim FC ready to create history