Defending champion Mizoram has made to the final of Dr T Ao Memorial Football Tournament after defeating Arunachal Pradesh by a solitary goal in the first semi-final played at JN Stadium,Polo on Monday.
Mizoram would take on the winner of the second semi-final match to be played between host Meghalaya and Manipur later in the evening.
Much to the dismay of the majority of the hundreds of the Mizoram supporters, minnows Arunachal Pradesh started off the semi-final contest in an electrifying manner.
The Mizoram players lacks the flair and the consistency which was their trademark during the league matches.
The Arunachal Pradesh players not only dominating the ball possession but also manages to create confusion among the Mizoram players during the intial part of the first half.
Arunachal Pradesh could have gone into the lead in the 15th minute after striker Toko Polium made a great move from the left flung and then made a beautiful pass to Mihin Pullo whose powerful strike was brilliantly save by Mizoram custodian J Van Lal Hriata.
After this missed oppurtunity by Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram started to play a more attacking game. After continuing to dominate the proceeding of the match, Mizoram got an excellent oppurtunity to go into the lead in the 27th minute after its skipper V Laltlanpuia took a powerful strike from outside the box, but the ball went straight to the goalkeeper Tadu Taka who made no mistake to collect the ball.
In the later part of the first half, Mizoram players continues to put pressure on the Arunachal defenders. Despite getting several oppurtunities to score, the Mizoram strikers could not capitalise on any of those and the first half finally ended with both teams failing to score.
Within few minutes after the break, Mizoram could have gone into the lead after an excellent ball from the right flung towards F Lalrinpuia whose strong right footer missed the goal by a whisker. Three minutes later, Arunachal Pradesh custodian made a major blunder as he failed to cleanly collect the ball and Larinpuia got an oppurtunity to put Mizoram into the lead, but his shot hit the cross bar.
Five minutes later, Arunchal Pradesh got a real openings to score after Toko Taker shot saw the ball sailed over the cross bar. A minute later, Mizoram got another golden oppurtunity to score after Lal Rinch Hana header saw the ball sailed over the cross bar.
Their hardwork finally paid off in the 74th minute, after subsitute Lalfawkama got a cross from the left flank who made no mistake to put the ball into net to give Mizoram a 1-0 lead.
With the one goal advantage, Mizoram did not allow Arunachal Pradesh to come back into the match as they continued to dictate the pace of the game.
Arunachal, despite showing a lot of fighting spirit, were guilty of making a few too many errors in the second half. They failed to hold onto the ball, which meant that they were scrambling in defence for much of the session.
They managed to deny Mizoram another goal, but couldn’t score one of their own and Arunachal thus fell in the semis and will have to content themselves with a shot for third place on Tuesday.