Goa-Manipur semi-final abandoned
The second semi-final in the National Football Championship, for the Santosh Trophy, between last year's runners-up Goa and hosts Manipur on Saturday was abandoned after 55 minutes of play with Goa leading 1-0.
In an unprecedented move, the disciplinary committee of the All-India Football Federation decided to abandon the match as an unruly home crowd started pelting stones and water bottles after Goa forged ahead in the 55th minute through an opportunistic goal by Climax Lawerence.
The Manipur players protested, contending that Lawerence, who came in as substitute, was off-side, but referee S M Balu of Karnataka ruled otherwise.
Television replays later showed that Climax was off-side.
After a marathon meeting later in the evening, Hardev Jadeja, chairman of AIFF's disciplinary committee, announced that the match would be replayed "in the larger interest of the game".
Jadeja said spectators would be banned from carrying bottles into the stadium tomorrow and 700 security men would guard the 15 entrances to the stadium.
Asked whether the Goa team would agree to the replay as they were leading 1-0 when play was abandoned, Jadeja said "the decision has been taken and the team would be immediately informed about it".
Two minutes after the goal, the referee tried to resume play twice but the crowd from almost every part of the 30,000-packed stadium flung water bottles, missiles and plastic chairs to the ground, forcing play to be called off.
The scoreboard in the eastern side of the gallery was ransacked and the number plates flung to the ground.
The reserve benches of Manipur and Goa too were not spared and both coaches and players had to rush to the centre of the ground for safety.
Play was held up for 50 minutes as the organising committee made a frantic bid to appease the agitated spectators. Players from both sides, match officials and policemen too tried to pacify the crowd but without success.
The crowd dispersed after Inspector General of Police (Law and Order-I) A Romen Kumar Singh announced through the public address system that the match would be replayed.
Earlier, the match saw both the teams play cautiously, putting more emphasis on defence rather than attack, which resulted in couple of missed chances.
Goa captain Denis Cabral attempted some good shots at
the Manipur goal but an alert custodian Noren Singh thwarted him.
The famed Manipur forwardline, comprising Bijen Singh,
Bungo Singh and Tiken Singh, combined well and made some forays into the tight Goan citadel but their attacks fizzled out due to some poor finishing.
Goa were unlucky not to score a goal in the 49th minute when
Menino Fernandes, taking advantage of a faulty clearance by a
Manipuri defender, unleashed a powerful drive which hit the
In the very next minute, Cabral got a through pass but
faltered near the goalmouth and shot wide.
This is Manipur's maiden apperance in the semi-finals of the Santosh Trophy.
Defending champions Kerala had yesterday entered the final
defeating Services 3-2.
Complete Coverage: Santosh Trophy 2002