Smit reclaim Assam Rifles Invitational Football Cupin thrilling penalty shootout

Shillong, March 17: The Smit SC reclaimed the Assam Rifles Invitational Football Cup with a 5-4 victory on penalties against the Assam Rifles Laitkor team after full time ended 1-1 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Saturday.

The final of the third edition of the tournament was the closest ever, unsurprising as it featured the 2016 champions Smit and Assam Rifles, who won the tournament last year. Both sides created plenty of opportunities throughout the 90 minutes, but such was the high level of competition and the evenly matched teams, the first goal took a long time in coming.

L Santa Singh bagged Assam Rifles’ lone goal in the 83rd minute through a free-kick that he placed to the left of Smit goalkeeper MaitshaphrangKharumnuid.

Smit, however, were not keen on giving up and with full time almost in sight they earned a corner, which was cleared away, but Andy Mawthoh was in place for a follow-up attack and he smashed the ball into the back of the net for the equaliser.

With full time ending deadlocked the match was taken to penalties directly instead of first going through extra time.

The shootout was just as intense as the rest of the match and the enthusiastic fans were kept on the edge of their seats as even the usual five penalty kicks failed to separate the two teams. Sudden death, however, saw Assam Rifles fold and Smit were able to celebrate a fantastic victory.

As champions Smit took home Rs 1 lakh and the coveted trophy, while the Assam Rifles team were awarded Rs 50,000, which they generously decided to share with the other clubs that participated in the competition.

Sixteen teams from around the state vied for the coveted trophy in the knock-out tournament, which began on March 7. The competition was organised by Assam Rifles in collaboration with the Meghalaya Football Association.

In his welcome speech Officiating Assistant Director General Ashish Jindal welcomed the dignitaries and fans and said, “We at Assam Rifles are totally aware of the passion and enthusiasm the people of the North East, and Meghalaya in particular, havefor football. Many people from Meghalaya have represented India in football andto promote budding football talent, we hold this tournament every year. Iextend our gratitude to the government of Meghalaya and the Meghalaya Football Association for extending support in organising this tournament.”

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