Shillong, June 23: Preparations are well underway for the final day of the Assam Rifles CAPF Under-19 Football Talent Hunt Tournament, the title matches of which will be held on Saturday.
Manipur and Meghalaya will contest the girls’ final at 8:00am, followed by the boys’ final between Manipur and Mizoram at 3:30pm, both at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Polo Grounds. All four teams are eager to get their hands on the stunning trophies crafted for the tournament, which have been named in honour of the late Dr Talimeran Ao, the North Eastern football legend who captained India in the 1948 Olympics.
A large cultural programme representing the North East as well as a mass band performance by the Assam Rifles are some of the other highlights of what promises to be a very specialday and entry is free for the public.
The third-place matches in the boys’ and girls’ divisions were played out on Friday.
Meghalaya boys had to come from two goals to one down to defeat Tripura 3-2, while Mizoram girls weathered a tough fight back from Nagaland to prevail 3-2 as well. Lamshaphrang Kurbah (19 th and 59 th minutes) netted a brace, while Melvin Marbaniang (55 th ) scored the other goal for Meghalaya. Tripura’s goal scorers were P Jamatia (21 st ) and Biswajet (42 nd ).
The girls’ playoff was another thrilling encounter, with Mizoram taking the lead through Grace Lalrampari in the 18 th minute before Nagaland conceded an own goal in the 27 th . Mizoram were cruising until Nagaland replied late in the second half through Akhala Jamir
(57 th ) and Lito S Zhimo (59 th ), but the excitement was not done yet with Lalninmuani scoring in stoppage time for the Mizoram victory.
The high quality of football displayed today augurs well for tomorrow’s finals. The Manipur girls have had it all their way so far, racking up 18 goals and conceding 0, but hosts Meghalaya will look to pull off an upset, banking on the prowess of striker Pynhun Shulet, who has scored all of her side’s seven goals.
The Manipur and Mizoram boys’ teams are quite well-matched, so it will be fascinating to see which side can come out on top.