Serial winners Nagaland Police make it 5 NSF trophy scalps
KOHIMA, OCTOBER 22: Perennial champions, Nagaland Police staged a late comeback to lift the NSF Martyr’s Memorial Trophy for the record fifth time here Saturday at Kohima local ground. In the final game, Nagaland Police (Red) defeated Forerunners FC, 4th NAP, Thizama 2-1 to emerge as the champions of the 17th edition of the annual tournament.
A stoppage time strike from Sakutemjen decided an exciting match in favour of the police team, clinching the coveted cup for the fifth time. Behind Nagaland Police are Naga Boys Club who have lifted the title thrice, and Barak FC twice.
In front of a full-capacity Khuochiezie stadium, it was Forerunners FC who drew first blood in the 53rd minute through their centre forward Mathew Kezhose. Ten minutes later, Nagaland Police equalized when their midfielder Lipok scored in the 63rd minute. Just when the match seemed to be headed for extra time, to the utter disappointment of the players and fans of Forerunners FC, Nagaland Police midfielder Sakutemjen netted the much needed goal in stoppage time (90+1), and sealed the match in favour of his team.
Following Sakutemjen’s goal, Forerunners FC should have equalized in the very next minute during the stoppage time, but Vimelie Chasie’s shot inside the box was saved by the goalkeeper.
This was followed by jubilation for the Nagaland Police players as the referee blew the final whistle of this edition, bringing an end to the month-long tournament. The most deserving team lifted the trophy, and this would be agreed by the regular spectators who have been around at Khuochiezie to witness the matches.
Though it went down in the final, Forerunners FC came way beyond the expectation of the crowd. Their journey to the final had not been easy as they have to overcome some tough teams like Barak FC and debutants P Vizheto in the semi-final and quarterfinal respectively.
With the victory, the champions Nagaland Police (Red) lifted the trophy and also won a cash award of Rs 1.6 lakh, while the runner-up Forerunners FC received Rs 1 lakh along with a trophy and citations.
The third and fourth places were bagged by Nagaland Police (Blue) and Barak FC. They both received a cash award of Rs 50,000 and Rs 30,000 respectively. Meanwhile, the individual award winners were each given Rs 5,000 and citations.
A total of 66 teams from across the state and neighbouring Manipur participated in the month-long which commenced on September 24.
The closing programme was graced by Yitachu, minister for School Education & SCERT as the chief guest.