Shillong, Mar 12: Hat-tricks by Wallamsuk Nongkhlaw and Lalboi Kipjen saw Smit and Assam Rifles respectively into the semifinals of the Assam Rifles Invitational Football Tournament today.
In the morning quarterfinal at the Assam Rifles football ground in Laitkor, defending champions Smit took down Seven Brothers 5-1, while Assam Rifles breezed past Mawpdang 8-2 in the afternoon last-eight fixture.
Strong winds swept the football ground today and that made controlling the ball challenging, especially when aerial.
Smit scored just the one goal in the first half, through Banlongkhraw Kharbyngar in the fourth minute, but Nongkhlaw scored almost at ease in the second 45 minutes, pumping in goals in the 71st, 74th, 77th and 90th minutes. Bansharai Sun picked up a consolation goal for Seven Brothers in the 80th minute.
By contrast, the afternoon game had a flurry of goals in the first half – seven in all, with 2017 champions Assam Rifles scoring five and Mawpdang two.
Kipjen bagged the opener in the seventh minute by chipping the ball over Mawpdang goalkeeper Freddy Warbah. The jawans doubled the lead just three minutes later when a Jefferson Nongrud shot deflected off the head of a defender and went into the net.
However, after perhaps relaxing their guard, Mawpdang got their opening goal in the 11th minute thanks to Pyntip Syiem, who scooted past the goalkeeper and scored with help from the woodwork. Syiem was Mawpdang’s most dangerous player and he went close again a few minutes later.
As it was, Assam Rifles produced a further two goals, with Nongrud assisting Kipjen to make it 3-1 and then an own goal to further extend their lead.
However, in the 33rd minute Syiem blasted the ball past the opposing goalkeeper to reduce Mawpdang’s deficit, but that only lasted six minutes as Kipjen bagged his hat-trick to see Assam Rifles into the break leading 5-2.
Mawpdang showed some early intent in the second half, with Iatei Duia being denied by the crossbar, but they did not get close after that, and Assam Rifles added a further three goals, scored by Zuala (55′), IR Channa (85′) and Roger Singh (86′).
Only one match is scheduled for tomorrow, which will be the last remaining quarterfinal between Nongkrem and Mawpat at 10:30AM at the Assam Rifles football ground in Laitkor.
(Photo contributed by Assam Rifles. Assam Rifles are in red/black, Mawpdang in white)