Dr. T.Ao Memorial Tournament: Arunachal stun Assam 2-0; Meghalaya thump Nagaland 4-0
Strong contenders Assam suffered a surprising 0-2 defeat at the hands of Arunachal Pradesh in the 4th Dr. T.Ao Memorial Football Tournament being played at the JN Stadium in Shillong, Meghalaya.
Assam, who notched up a convincing 2-0 victory over Nagaland in their opening match were in for a rude shock as Arunachal came out all guns blazing from the starting whistle.
Touted as the underdogs of the tournament, Arunachal, needed a strong start to the match after being handed a 0-3 defeat by hosts Meghalaya in their opening tie and they caught Assam by surprise with their early aggression.
Arunachal looked more purposeful in their moves while Assam struggled to maintain possession even as they were hustled out their strides by their opponents. Their spadework in the early stages bore fruit when they scored the much-needed opening goal.
Toko Polium triggered celebrations in the Arunachal camp when he bulged the Assam net in the 22nd minute. Rattled by the Arunachal strike, Assam tried to organise themselves to mount a serious fightback but their opponents did not give them much lee-way controlling the play much to their frustration.
Arunachal Pradesh led 1-0 at half-time.
Assam needed to summon desperate measures in a bid to find the equalizer in the second half. But they found it hard to breach the Arunachal citadel.
Arunachal, on the other hand, looked more confident whenever they orchestrated moves upfront. Toko Polium added his name on the scoresheet for the second time in the match unleashing a powerful shot to give Arunachal a 2-0 cushion in the 72nd minute.
With this win, Arunachal have also kept their hopes alive of qualifying for the semifinals from Group A.
In another match, hosts Meghalaya consigned Nagaland to their second straight defeat, routing them 4-0.
It was Nagaland who looked more promising in the first quarter as they kept the Meghalaya defence busy. Lipok Sashi and Sakutemjen missed the target early on for Nagaland.
Meghalaya gradually found their moorings and started asking questions to the Nagaland defence. The home side drew first blood in the 38th minute when Milton Kharsati tapped home a pass from Niwan O Gatphoh.
Hardly had they celebrated their opening goal, Meghalaya scored again in the very next minute when Donbok Khymdeit found the target after being set up by Ronnie Nongbri.
Meghalaya led 2-0 at the lemon break.
Niwan O Gatphoh scored the insurance goal for Meghalaya in the 54th minute off a rebound.
Down 0-3, Nagaland withdrew their goalie Liezietsu and replaced him with Mezhulhoukho but it hardly mattered as Meghalaya pumped home the fourth goal through Gatphoh in the 76th minute.
The hosts held firmly in the dying moments to emerge clinical 4-0 winners.