Army Green floors Neroca, wins 128th Durand Cup
New Delhi (Suresh Kumar Lau)- Neroca FC, Imphal hopes of winning its maiden Durand Cup title was dashed in the tie- breaker by Army Green which won the final at 6-5 (0-0). It unquestionably was the day of underdog at the Ambedkar Stadium, for a team with amateur and inexperience that barely plays in tournament to come out as winner and runner-up.
The match played after interval under floodlights at the stadium, the Neroca FC putting up a spirited show to win maiden title. The Army Green held goalless (0-0) in the regulation as well as extra time before winning on penalties 6-5. An Army XI team had last won the Durand Cup in 2005. The scorers for Army Green were skipper P.C. Lallawmkina, P.D Gurung, Uttam Das, Linesh PV, Bikash Budhathoki, Bikram Adhikari whereas five goals of Neroca FC were scored by Singham Subash Singh, David Lal Biaklara, Mohd Sohail Shah, Moirangthem Dhananjoy Singh and Moirangmayum Ashok Singh.
Strident support from the stands packed with Army men helped. It was also to the muscular strength, endurance, reaction time and confidence of the military team discipline, that saw it stick to strategy and stay patient, waiting for the rival to make a mistake and utilize the available resources.
Lt. Col. Shiv Rakash, Manager and Chief Coach of the Army, credited the success of the team to its superior fitness.
In spite of tenacious efforts by organizing committee renowned teams like former Durand Cup Champions Mohan Bagan, East Bengal and Current I League Champion Bengaluru FC did not participate in the tourney for numerous reasons. The win fetched Army Green 45 Lakh INR while Neroca FC took home 20 Lakh INR as prize money and losing semifinalist 5 Lakh INR each.
Earlier in the semifinals, Aizwal FC lost to Army Green 5-7, while Neroca FC, Imphal triumphed over DSK Shivajians 3-0.
Final Team Standing: 1 Army Green, 2 Neroca FC, 3 Aizawal FC, 4 DSK Shivajians, 5 SCDE Goa, 6 Dempo SC, 7 Indian Navy, 8 Army Red, 9 Gangtok Himalayan, 10 Minerva FC, 11 Indian Air Force and 12 Real Kashmir.