They may have been up against taller, stronger men, but the spirited young footballers from Mizoram beat them with speed and skill. The 2-0 win also made them the first to reach the men’s football semifinals of the National Games.
Punjab had its moments at the Corporation Stadium on Wednesday night, but Mizoram played superior football. Punjab is still very much in contention though to take the second semifinal spot from Pool ‘B’, having scored a victory over Services.
Services, earlier in the day, drew with Bengal 2-2. Those two teams have just one point apiece. Just two matches remain in the pool, Mizoram v Services and Punjab v Bengal. Both those games will be played on Friday.
Both Mizoram and Punjab had their chances in the opening half, but with good defending on either side, the score-sheet was blank at the interval. In the second half, Mizoram continued to move forward at a brisker pace and went in front in the 57th minute, as a long-ranger from captain David Lalrinmuana beat the Punjabi goalkeeper Jagroop Singh.
Punjab was rattled by that goal. But, there was more to come. In the 72nd minute, the diminutive M.S. Dawngliana, who had substituted for Laldampuia, came up with a stunning header off a splendid corner kick taken by Lalrinmuana. It could have been 3-0 five minutes later, but Alber Zohmingmawia missed the target narrowly after a fine, quick run down the right.
The results: Pool ‘B’: Mizoram 2 (David Lalrinmuana 57, M.S. Dawngliana 72) bt Punjab 0.
Services 2 (Arjun Tudu 11, Sandip Rai 33) drew with Bengal 2 (Javed Ansari 44, Subojit Majumdar 78).