Gangtok, 21 Jul:
Sunil Chhetri, the Indian football team captain and who wears the Bengaluru FC colors for the domestic club circuit, was today conferred the Indian Player of the Year award for the second consecutive year.
The awards ceremony, instituted the Football Players Association of India and hosted in Gangtok by the Football Players Association of Sikkim today, drew a handsome attendance at Paljor Stadium with the audience also treated to an exhibition match played between FPAI and Sikkim Stars.
As for the highlight of the day, the other awardees were: Foreign Player of the Year award to Ferran Coromimas of Goa FC; Young Player of the Year for Lallinzuala Chhangte; a Special Award for Bhaichung Bhutia; Coach of the Year, Elcos Chattori of North East United FC; Fans Player of the Year award for Shahal Abdul Samad.
Sunil Chhetri could not attend the awards ceremony and his award was collected by Renedy Singh on his behalf today.
The exhibition match was keenly contested and entertainingly fought with regulation time ending in a 1-1 draw.
Sikkim Stars drew first blood, pulling ahead in the 35th minute when Sanju Pradhan scored the opener of the match.
The second half went in FPAI XI’s favour with Surchandra Singh of FPAI scoring the equaliser in the 65th minute. The 90 minutes of regulation time ended 1-1.
When even the tie-breaker could not throw up a winner, the match proceeded to a penalty shoot-out which was conclusively won by FPAI. FPAI converted four of its 5 penalties whole Sikkim Stars scored only one. FPAI won 5-2.
The event had Governor Ganga Prasad as chief guest accompanied by Chief Minister PS Tamang [Golay] as guest of honour.
In his address, the Governor appreciated the initiative taken by FPAI and while congratulating the organisation called on it to continue working for the interest of footballers and also help nurture players from Sikkim.
“Sikkim has many skilled players who deserve support to explore their talents further,” the Governor said.
The function also included a cultural program.