Gangtok, Oct 26 (UNI) Football mania is set to sweep Sikkim for the next 12 days with the 29th All India Governor's Gold Cup Football starting from tomorrow at Paljor stadium here.
Sikkim's new Governor Sudharshan Agarwal will be inaugurating the tournament and the first match will see the local favourites-- Sikkim Football Association (SFA) XI locking horns with the JCT (Academy).
Buoyed by the last year's huge success, the SFA has left no stone unturned to cement the tournament in the national football scenario by inviting top national clubs and those from neighbouring countries.
Six international teams, including an all Nigerian team would be the major attraction in this hilly region, where a total of 16 football clubs are participating.
The international teams-- Nigerian Eagles, top two clubs from Nepal (NRT and Three Star), two from Bangladesh (Chittagaon Abahoni and Badda Jagarani Sangshad) and Bhutan XI-- were participating, SFA president Tempo Bhutia told UNI.
Other notable participating teams are Punjab XI, Mumbai United, Assam State Electricity Board and Manipur XI.
The tournament, being conducted since last 28 years, had created players like Bhaichung Bhutia, captain of Indian Football team.
Sanju Pradhan and Nirmal Chettri, both products of 'Search for More Bhaichungs' scheme launched by the state government had been taken up by Air India Mumbai after their stellar performances last year in the same tournament.
Air India Mumbai had won the last year's Gold Cup.
However, football giants from Kolkatta and Goa including the defending champions Air India Mumbai would not be seen following the ongoing Durand Cup and other AIFF tournaments.