Gangtok, 27 Jan:
A brace by the substitute, Milan Chettri, in extra-time helped Sikkim enter the finals of the 9th T Ao North East Football Championship being played here at IG Stadium in Kohima, Nagaland.
This is for the third time that Sikkim has reached the finals of this prestigious tournament. It has not won the champion’s trophy so far.
In the nail-biting second semi-final match played under floodlights this evening, Sikkim outplayed Arunachal Pradesh 3-1, edging past in the 30-minute extra-time of the match.
Sikkim will now take on Mizoram for the Cup on Tuesday.
Sikkim had topped group-B in the league round with seven points to reach the semis.
Today, Sikkim maintained constant pressure with an attacking game right from the start but the first half ended goalless.
Sikkim continued with its attacking game in the second half and finally, Kintup Lachungpa won the breakthrough with a goal in the 59th minute.
However, Sikkim could not maintain the lead for long and Tapi Hakhe scored the equalizer for Arunachal Pradesh in the 78th minute to end full time of the match 1-1.
In the 30-minute extra-time, desperate for victory, both teams took each other head-on with constant attacks and counter-attacks. And then Sikkim’s substitute player, Milan Chettri, came through for the team and scored in the 100th minute. Shortly after, he completed his brace in the 112th minute and sealed a 3-1 victory for Sikkim.
Team manager, Arjun Rai appreciated the game displayed by Sikkim and beamed stated that every player delivered as expected and required for the strategy of the team coach, Mayal Dok Lepcha.
“We have entered the finals of the tournament for the third time and players are in high spirits and confidence to bring the champion’s trophy home this time,” he said.