Shillong, Feb 6: Mizoram defended their Junior National Football Championship for the Dr BC Roy Trophy by holding their nerve for a 5-4 victory on penalties in the final against Punjab at the JN Stadium here today.
Mizoram had taken the lead in the 32nd minute via Malsawmtluanga before this was cancelled out by Tania Raji in the 49th minute for Punjab. Even extra time was not enough to separate the two best teams at this level and Mizoram then scored off all five of their penalty kicks, while Punjab scuffed one.
A cross led to the opening goal, with Malsawmtluanga heading the ball into the pitch, which sent it over the leaping Punjab goalkeeper Harpreet Singh. This was the first and only goal that Punjab conceded in 480 minutes of the 2019-20 Dr BC Roy Trophy competition.
With these two states playing in four of the last five Junior Nationals finals, Punjab were always going to fight back strong and they managed to find the equaliser early into the second half when Mangminlun Singson delivered a free-kick that dropped just in front of Mizoram goalkeeper Lalrinzuala, who was not able to gather it cleanly. That allowed Raji, who was close by, to smash in the equaliser right in front of the goal.
Another tense 40 minutes of regular time plus half an hour of extra time failed to separate the two teams and Mizoram were only able to celebrate their second consecutive junior championship by edging Punjab by the closest of margins in the tiebreaker.
At the prize distribution ceremony Mizoram received their trophy from All India Football Federation Vice-President and Meghalaya Football Association President Larsing Ming Sawyan, who was joined by senior officials of the AIFF, MFA and other state associations.
(Meghalaya Football Association photo)