Manipur score eight against HP
Hosts Manipur hammered eight goals against Himachal Pradesh in the opening match of the 58th National Football Championship, for the Santosh Trophy, which began on Thursday amid tight security.
Dempo striker Bijen Singh scored four of those goals, while KSH Kanta Singh, subtitutes N Helen Singh and L Tiken Singh, and W Tomba scored one each.
Manipur led by two goals at the breather after Bijen Singh and Kanta Singh broke through the HP defence in the latter stages of the first-half.
Fielding at least six outstation players, including Ratan Singh of Dempo, Manitombi Singh of Salgaocar, James Singh of Mahindra United and Bijen Singh, Manipur called the shots from ther start but had to wait for 35 minutes, because of some splendid goalkeeping by Ashok Kumar, to open their account.
The deadlock was broken in the 36th minute when Bijen Singh beat Kumar with a header after being fed an aerial ball by I Nilkumar. Seven minutes later Kanta Singh drove home from 30 yards (2-0).
After the breather Bijen got his second goal with a right-footer to make it 3-0.
Substitute N Helen Singh, who replaced I Nilkumar, nodded home in the 55th minute, earning the hosts their fourth goal (4-0).
Tomba Singh made it five with a right-footer five minute later while Bijen scored his third and fourth goals in the next 15 minutes' span. The tally was increased by L Tiken Singh, who replaced James Singh who sustained a minor injury, in the 85th minute.
Manipur captain Ratan Singh expressed happiness over the effort and hoped his team would do better as the tournament progresses.
Tomorrow Jammu and Kashmir take on Rajashthan in group one, Chandigarh play against Meghalaya in group two, Mizoram meet Madhya Pradesh in group three while Assam is pitted against Andhra Pradesh and Daman and Diu against Bihar in group five.
Earlier, state governor Ved Prakash Marwah declared open the championship. Cultural programmes marked the opening ceremony.