Shillong ready for prestigious fourth Dr T Ao Memorial Football Tournament
The picturesque town of Shillong is all geared up to host the prestigious fourth Dr T Ao Memorial Football Tournament beginning at the JN Stadium, Polo from March 18.
This is the first time that Meghalaya is playing host to this coveted football tournament of the Northeast region.
The ten day tourney, which is being organized by the Meghalaya Football Association (MFA), is staged in memory of legendary footballer and former India captain Talimeran Ao.
The tournaments would feature the eight Northeastern states battling it out for the top honours. Hosts Meghalaya are placed in Group A, alongside Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Nagaland.
Strong contenders Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura are clubbed in Group B.
According to the Meghalaya Football Association, more than half the matches would be held under the newly-installed floodlights at the JN Stadium.
The premier tournament of the Northeast aims to promote a healthy competitive spirit and camaraderie among the youth and players of the eight North-East states.
It is may be mentioned here that the Dr T Ao Memorial Football Tournament is conducted annually in the eight north-eastern states.
Assam won the inaugural edition held in Guwahati, putting it across Manipur 4-1 on penalties. Assam went on to retain the crown in the second edition held in Imphal, where they edged out Manipur in penalty shootout after both teams were locked goalless in regulation time as well as in extra time.
Mizoram bagged the crown in the third edition held at the Palijor Stadium in Gangtok when they sneaked past Sikkim 9-8 in sudden death after both teams were tied 1-1 in regulation time.
The tournament was started through the initiatives of the North Eastern Council (NEC) and DoNER.
Meghalaya Football Association general secretary Larsing Ming Sawyan intimated that Assam would take on Nagaland in the tournament opener on March 18th at 1 pm, while hosts Meghalaya rub shoulders with Arunachal Pradesh at 5 pm.
The organizers have further apprised that two matches would be played every day. Tickets are priced at Rs 20 (open gallery) and Rs 30 (covered gallery).
It was also learnt that VIP tickets will not be sold as the seats will be reserved for the team members of all the participating states as well as for invitees.
All three of Meghalaya’s matches would have a 5pm kick-off. In fact, Meghalaya’s lung opener against Arunachal Pradesh on March 18, will be the first official football match to be held under floodlights at the ground.
The two semifinals would be held on March 25 at 1pm and 5pm respectively, while the third place play-off tie would be held the following day at 5pm.
The tournament will be inaugurated by Meghalaya Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma.
The final will be held on March 27 at 5pm.
The winners would take home a cash award of Rs 7 lakh while the runners-up team would collect a cash award of Rs 4 lakh.
The third-placed team would be richer by Rs 2 lakh.
The player of the tournament would win a cash award of Rs 20,000 while the highest goal scorer and best goalkeeper of the tournament would take home a purse of Rs 10,000 respectively.