The U-15 match between Jharkhand (white) and Mizoram at JRD Tata Sports Complex on Wednesday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Jharkhand opened their campaign in style by drubbing Mizoram 7-0 on the inaugural day of the India leg of Under-15 Nike Manchester United Premier Cup at JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur.
Sohail Anjum and Y. Gopi were the stars on Wednesday as they scored hat-tricks with some smart footwork, foxing opponents every now and then in a one-sided affair in the morning session.
Twelve-year-old Gopi drew first blood in the 3rd minute, converting a cross from the right to good effect. The youngster was at it again, pumping his second goal in the 14th minute. Gopi completed his hat-trick in the 36th minute with a swift left-footer.
Sohail, all of 13, struck in the 13th, 28th and 33rd minutes to compliment his teammate’s remarkable effort. Both players moved well and also collected passes with elan to strike at will in the 40-minute match.
Vijay Hembrom scored the seventh goal in the 31st minute.
“We are happy with the outcome. It is a confident start for our team,” Sohail and Gopi said in unison.
The second match, between Bengal and Delhi, ended in a 1-1 stalemate. The former started positively with Rohit Majumdar striking in the 3rd minute. However, Bengal lost the initiative in the latter half, as Delhi found the equaliser through Tushar Kurkrati in the 32nd minute.
Punjab and Sikkim played a goal-less draw. Meghalaya, on the other hand, scored a solitary goal win over Tripura through Malsawmzuala in the 13th minute.
In the evening matches, the Uttar Pradesh and Manipur tie ended in a 1-1 draw while Chandigarh posted a 1-0 win over Odisha.
Earlier in the day, Tata Steel vice-president Sanjiv Paul inaugurated the four-day prestigious tournament in the presence of All India Football Federation (AIFF) assistant general secretary Anil Kamat and head of Tata Steel sports department Captain Amitabh.
The Manchester United Premier Cup is a global youth football tournament, which was established by Nike in 1993.
Fourteen outfits from the north, north-east and east zones — namely Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Manipur, Mizoram, Odisha, Bengal and Jharkhand — have lined up for the event being sponsored by sports goods major Nike under the aegis of AIFF with support from Tata Steel.
The AIFF has nominated Binod Kumar Singh of Jharkhand and Bikash Mukherji of Bengal as match commissioners. Out of nine technical officials nominated by AIFF, six are from Jharkhand.
Semi-final matches will be played on May 4, while the final is scheduled for the following day. The teams reaching the final will qualify for another decisive tournament to be played in Goa on May 10. The winner will make it to Asia Cup, to be played in Indonesia in May-end.
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