Manipur govt to award Rs one lakh to Indian football team

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Imphal, Aug 18 (UNI) The Manipur government will present a cash award of Rs one lakh to the Indian football team that thrashed defending champion Tajikistan 4-1 in the final of the AFC Challenge Cup football tournament held at Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi on August 13.

With the win, the Indian team has got a direct entry into the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Doha after 24 years.

Manipur Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Nongthombam Biren expressed happiness over the splendid performance of the Indian team in the match where eight players from the North Eastern region, including six players from Manipur, took part.

Mr Biren, who was among the 20,000 odd audience of the match, said the sporting skills of players from the North Eastern region showed the light and created new hope for football players of the country in the international sporting arena.

Mr Biren himself was once a football player of the Border Security Force, Jalandhar, and the BSF beat JCT Mills by 1-0 in the final match against JCT Mills Phagwara of Durand Cup held in New Delhi in 1981.

''The monopoly in the Indian football has ended now after the foreigner football coach has been appointed. Consequently, the Indian football team had many talented players picked up from different parts of the country. Earlier, it was a game only for a few states,'' he added.

The Minister stated that Manipur football players, who had earlier never dreamt of entry into the Indian team, now occupied a prominent place in Indian football.

He praised the performance of the Manipur players, namely Gourmangi Singh, Surkumar Singh, P Rennedy Singh, Bungo Singh, Sushil Kumar Singh and Gobind Singh, besides the remarkable skills of Indian captain Bhaichung Bhutia and Sunil Chhetri, who earned a hattrick in the match.

UNI NS DPM/src RAR RK131316

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