Gangtok: April 18, 2012
United Sikkim FC for the first time will be featuring in the senior division I league after playing 1-1 draw against Mohammedan Sporting Kolkata in the last match of the qualification battle of the ongoing 2nd division I league at Paljor stadium, Gangtok on Tuesday. United Sikkim will now contest with the 13 other such clubs in the I league which operates on a system of promotion and relegation of two teams each year with the I-League 2nd Division.
Thousands of fans from all works of the life were present on the stadium to cheer and support the Philippe De Rider’s boys. What the Sikkimese would have expected, the scenario was more electrifying than that. The chief minister of Sikkim greeted both the team and was present in the stadium accompanied by the minister for sports NK Pradhan and host of other dignitaries.
Fantasizing the dreams of thousands of fans, Thoi Singh (12) in the first minutes of the match made a brilliant run down the right plank sending a tuff note to the opponent. Striker Babatunde (10) tested a long range from Thoi pass which was saved by keeper Arnab Das Sarma (21). Mohammedan’s Alfred Jaryan (10) was looking dangerous and his move was rescued by defender Sandesh (5). Alfred was fouled by Govind (2) in the edge of the box which nearly cost expensive for the host. Alfred’s fierce shot in the 19th minutes of the game hit the top bar and Sandesh (5) blocked the rebound denying them from the lead in the game. In the counter attack captain Quinton Jacobs (17) attempt with his left foot was of the target. A good chance for the host was seen when Thoi missed the net from the close range well manufactured by Daniel. In the 30th minutes of the game Daniel provided the lead to the host form the penalty spot. In the dying minutes of the first half captain Jacobs level jus a yard from the target. The half time remained in favor of the hosts.
Thoi Singh sustained pressuring the defenders with his sprint in the right plank. Kolkata’s Surabuddin Mollick (11) substituting Md Muktar in the early of the second half attempted a good looking shot which was marvelously saved by keeper Monotosh Ghosh. Alfred (10) in the 55th minutes of the game equalized the score on deflection. Mohammeden seems to be back on their feet once again and the race for the I league was not ended. In the 80’s, Kolkata’s Tapan Maity cross to the danger zone found no one. Fighting the host strongly, the Mohammedan showered series of attacks but failed to manufacture the lead. In the late minutes of the game Bhaichung diving head could not found the target. In the final minutes of the added time defender Govind Singh’s (2) missed an open target. Captain Quinton left foot bicycle shot too scaled inch above the goal.
The former Indian football captain and the co-owner of the United Sikkim FC Bhaichung Bhutia said that “It’s a dream come true. We always dreamed of Sikkim in the I league and this has come true today. I would also like to thank the Sikkimese fans and the chief minister, the departments who have come here to support the team”. “Now my job is to go to every school and thanked them” said Bhaichung.
The seasons for the I league run from October to May, with teams playing 26 matches each, totaling 182 matches in the season.