North East Dr. T Ao Trophy kicks off today
Kohima, Jan. 19 (EMN): It is finally here. The much-hyped football extravaganza — North East Dr. T Ao Trophy – is kicking off at the astro-turf Indira Gandhi (IG) Stadium in Kohima today, on January 20.
All the eight north-eastern states — Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya , Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura — will be vying for the coveted trophy.
Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio has welcomed the participating teams to the state and wished them the best.
‘A warm welcome to all the participating teams of North East Dr. T Ao Trophy 2020; commemorating 100th birth anniversary of the football legend. It’s a time to learn from each other, build lasting relations and exhibit highest standards of sportsmanship. My best wishes to all the teams,’ Rio tweeted on Saturday.
The governor of Nagaland and Meghalaya, RN Ravi will attend the opening ceremony of the tournament, which will start at 9 am on Monday.
The four teams that will play on the inaugural day have expressed optimism ahead of their first matches.
The opening match will be played between host team and runners-up of first edition, and Arunachal Pradesd, semi-finalist of 2016 edition.
“We are preparing well, so looking to a positive result tomorrow,” striker Khwetelhi Thopi, one of the key players of Nagaland team, told Eastern Mirror at IG Stadium on Sunday.
“The boys are confident, so we will give our best and play well,” said Roko Angami, Nagaland team coach.
Arunachal Pradesh coach Peto Taring too exuded confidence on his players, saying: “My boys are really prepared and I expect them to do well. It will be a tough match.”
“Nagaland will have to play well because they are home team, so the pressure will be on them,” he added.
In the second match of the day, Tripura will take on six times champions Manipur.
“We expect to win against the defending champions (Manipur) in our first match,” skipper Juvial Debbarma said when asked about the team’s preparation against the formidable team.
Manipur team coach S Amutombi said that the team will reach final, while its captain and goalkeeper L Premkumar said that the team should win their first match of the tournament.
The government of Nagaland is organising the tournament in collaboration with Nagaland Football Association and supported by the government of India. A total prize money of INR 22, 85, 000 has being set for the trophy, where the champions will take home INR 10, 00,000 and the runners-up, INR 6, 00,000.
The trophy is being organized in rotation wise by the eight Northeast States in memory and honour of the legendary footballer Dr. T Ao who was given the captain’s armband in 1948 to captain the Indian Football Team in London.
Nagaland vs Arunachal Pradesh at 10:30 am
Manipur vs Tripura at 4:00 pm