Guwahati/Hailakandi, May 4: Football in Assam is going the cricket way.
Like the Ranji cricket team, the Santosh Trophy team will also comprise outstation players to do well in the coveted meet, to be held in Srinagar later this month.
The Assam Football Association (AFA) has been compelled to look beyond the state’s boundaries, as most of the team’s key strikers are on the injury list.
AFA secretary Ankur Dutta told The Telegraph that injuries to ace forwards Akum Ao, Sanjiba Rongpi and Durga Boro has compelled them to think of replacements from outside the state.
After having been the National Games champions with an all-local outfit in February last year, the Assam football team has fallen short of forwards with most of the probables named for the ongoing trials in Silchar plagued by injuries.
“We have got Thomson Langthasa, Amulya Das and few others among the probables. However, the sting necessary to win matches has been missing. If the injured players recover and join the second phase of the trials from Monday, then we need not worry. But, if the present scenario continues, we might have to look out for a couple of forwards from outside the state on lien,” Dutta said.
The proposed recruitment will, however, need the approval of the AFA governing body. The move may seem ironical to many, as Assam has produced professionals like T. Ao, Tohsen Bora, William Koso, Sushil Kumar, Sanjiba Rongpi and Sanjay Boro who have played for clubs outside the state.
Dutta said the AFA was on the lookout for outstation professionals during the ONGC I-League 2 final round tournament that concluded today.
However, most of the teams in the league comprised foreign recruits in the forward lines and foreign recruits are not allowed in the Santosh Trophy tournament. He hinted that players from West Bengal and Manipur were being watched keenly.
Altogether 51 players were invited for the 15-day first phase of trials in Silchar that ended yesterday under coach Shankar Moitra and 33 were retained for the second phase starting on Monday.
The selected probables will be sent on an exposure tour to Calcutta on May 12.
Girls’ football: Manipur and Mizoram today posted convincing wins in their quarterfinal league matches of the 4th sub-junior (under-17) national girls’ football tournament underway in Diphu, says our correspondent from Nagaon.