Shillong, Feb 5: For the fourth time in five years Mizoram and Punjab will lock horns to be crowned champions of the prestigious Junior National Football Championship for the Dr BC Roy Trophy in the final, which will be held at the JN Stadium here tomorrow. Kick-off will be at 1PM and entry will be free.
In their recent clashes in the final Punjab won the Junior Nationals trophy in 2015-16 and 2016-17 but last year Mizoram reversed the tide and defeated Punjab in the title match 2-1.
Both sides came through their semifinals with 1-0 victories; Mizoram against hosts Meghalaya and Punjab over West Bengal.
Speaking at a pre-match press conference in the Meghalaya Football Association office today, Mizoram manager Hmingsanga said, “We respect Punjab but we will try our level best to beat them and I expect a beautiful game tomorrow.”
Hmingsanga added that Mizoram were lucky to play Meghalaya in the semis rather than in the final given that, as hosts, Meghalaya would have had tremendous levels of support. State captain Lalpekhlua Jongte, meanwhile, described Meghalaya as the best team they have faced so far.
“We request that the Mizo Students Union, Young Mizo Association and everyone else come and cheer us in the big final like they did in the semis,” Hmingsanga said.
For their part, Punjab are also aiming to give a strong performance tomorrow.
“We have one injured player but the rest of the team is strong and ready to give their best,” manager Davinder Singh stated. “Mizoram and Punjab are the best teams and they will give 100 percent.”
Punjab captain Mangminlun Singson echoed his manager, saying, “We will try our best by standing together once more and playing as a team.”
In the renewal of their rivalry, Punjab will be banking on Seilanthang Lotjem, who has scored six of his side’s nine goals in the competition so far. Mizoram, meanwhile, have had several players contribute to their tally of eight goals and are thus less reliant on a single individual to score.
Punjab, meanwhile, have not conceded a goal in any of their four matches, while Mizoram did give up one to Delhi in the group stage but have otherwise kept clean sheets throughout.
(Meghalaya Football Association photo. From left: Punjab captain Mangminlun Singson, Punjab manager Davinder Singh, Mizoram manager Hmingsanga and Mizoram captain Lalpekhlua Jongte)