Shillong, March 22, 2013
Three second half goals saw Manipur come from a goal behind to defeat Sikkim in the eighth match of the Dr T Ao Memorial Football Tournament at the JN Stadium, Shillong, on March 21.
There was good challenging play from Sikkim early on and they were more energetic in the field than their more fancied rivals, with every player playing his role perfectly.
After threatening to score a number of times, Bir Bahadur Pradhan opened Sikkim’s account in the match in the 16th minute. A cross from the right flank found Pradhan open in the box and he smashed a right-footer into the net for a well-deserved goal.
Sikkim’s defenders were also tight and were able to stifle Manipur as they pushed for the equaliser.
A hard challenge by a Sikkim defender just three yards outside their own box saw Manipur with a good opportunity to level the scores with a free kick in the 34th minute. Kh Naoton took the shot, but it went wide of the left post.
They then won a penalty in the 37th minute. A throw-in led to a goal mouth melee and a resulting foul on a Manipur player won them a golden chance. Md Sohail stepped up to take the shot, but Nim Tenzing Lepcha was up to the task, diving to his left. He blocked the ball and easily claimed the rebound.
Two minutes of stoppage time did not see Manipur score, although they were the more attacking side. While they had the lead, Sikkim will have been wary after losing to
Mizoram in their first match on March 19 Tuesday after leading 3-1 at one stage.
After the restart Lalzarzo took a strong shot on goal, but the ball ricocheted off a defender and landed on top of the Sikkim net.
After struggling for half an hour in search of their first goal, Manipur equalised in the 51st minute through O Pitlar. A long ball drew the Sikkim keeper forward but he couldn’t collect cleanly and Pilar was on hand to fire the ball into the back of the net.
Another chance in the 55th minute almost yielded the Manipur side the lead. Md Imran Khan took the ball up the right flank and neatly passed it to Naoton but the latter couldn’t finish the job.
Sikkim started to respond around the hour mark, but their plays were prone to errors that didn’t exist in the first half.
These errors came to cost Sikkim in the 69th minute when the diminutive Md Imran Khan bursts past a line of defenders who were caught napping following a long ball forward and, with only the keeper standing in his way, shot the ball into the back of the net to take his side 2-1 up.
Naoton put the game out of reach of Sikkim with the fourth goal of the match in the 76th minute.
The defence were slow to react once again and, with the keeper drawn out of the goalmouth, Naoton swerved around the opposition and put the ball into the net.
This win will help Manipur in their search for a semifinal berth, following their 1-1 draw with Tripura on Tuesday. With two losses, Sikkim are effectively out of the tournament.
Donggala, Sulawesi Tengah
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