Mizoram stun favourites Goa 3-1 to start Santosh Trophy campaign in style
Mizoram produced a stunning upset to down six-time champions Goa 3-1 in the group B opening fixture of the national football championship for the 72nd Santosh Trophy.football Updated: Mar 20, 2018 23:15 IST
In the way they creamed favourites Goa, coming back to win 3-1, Mizoram showed that football in that state is a lot more than Aizawl FC who had a fairytale run all the way to the 2016-17 I-League title.
On paper, Goa have the most experienced team in the 72nd Santosh Trophy where it is mandatory to have three under-21 players in the playing 11 and five in the squad. Their coach, five-time national league winner Armando Colaco, admitted as much even as he searched for answers to the cave-in at Rabindra Sarovar stadium in Kolkata on Tuesday.
Victorino Fernandes put Goa ahead in the 11th minute but Mizoram equalised through F Lalrinpuia in the 25th minute before Lal Romawia scored in the 81st and the 84th minutes.
Fernandes scored after Mizoram lost the ball in the midfield to Marcus Mascarenhas. Fernandes, who played for India in 2013 during a seven-year stint with Sporting Clube de Goa, beat central defender Laldinpuia PC with a smart dribble and slotted home.
In a team that also had Beevan d’Mello, who turned out for for Salgaocar and Sporting Clube de Goa between 2004 to 2015, and Peter Carvalho, a Dempo regular since 2004 and part of two Indian Super League campaigns, in the line-up and former India skipper Joachim Abranches on the bench, the goal showed why Goa’s reputation preceded their coming.
It turned out to be Mizoram taking time to gauge their opponents. “We didn’t know much about Goa apart from Mr Colaco,” said Mizoram coach Lalsangzuala Hmar.
Mizoram came close in the 23rd minute but Lalrinpuia’s shot was blocked by Carvalho and drew level when he stabbed home after the ball pinged in the Goa penalty area. Those were the first signs of a Goa fadeout.
Lal Remruata nearly scored in the 37th minute and headed into the horizontal in the 49th . By then, Mizoram had targeted the left side of Goa’s defence.
“We noticed they were leaving space between the central defender and the (left) back. It gave us space to move between the lines and also play on the blind side of the left back,” said Hmar.
Barring a shot that D’Mello put wide, Goa had nothing to offer after the breather. Mizoram struck through central midfielder Romawia after Remruata headed down a delivery from the right by Lalbiakhlua. Romawia then went solo again on the left side of Goa’s defence and slotted home.
“We are shocked. Credit to Mizoram, they could have won by a bigger margin,” said Colaco.
Punjab came back to beat Odisha 2-1 at the Sailen Manna Sports Complex in Howrah. Odisha led through Arpan Lakra in the 62nd minute but Punjab made it 1-1 through Sarbjit in the 69th minute before Rudra Pratap Pradhan’s own goal in the 81st fetched them full points.