GANGTOK, SIKKIM: Mohammedan Sporting Club blank Sikkim Himalayan FC 2-1 to claim the title in the 39th Sikkim Governor’s Gold Cup at the Paljor Stadium in Gangtok on Tuesday.
Vanlalbiaa Chhangte (4th and 79th), who adjudged as the player of the tournament, scored twice after Sikkim Himalayan equalized through Eugene Nimako (62nd).
The Black Panthers looked dangerous from the outset and took the lead as early as the 4th minute through Vanlalbiaa, who rounded Sikkim Himalayan goalkeeper Urgen Pintso to slot from close range.
There were thoughts that the early goal might see the floodgates open for Mohammedan SC, however this was a Sikkim Himalayan side with renewed purpose keen to show the form that carried them to the final.
Eugene, John Kane and Uttam Rai led the charge forward for the home side, with several first-half chances going just short of the target.
Mohammedan SC, on the other hand, looked a lot more comfortable in the first-half, adopting a passing game that often had Sikkim Himalayan giving chase rather than being able to control the game themselves.
There were a slew of chances for the Black Panthers but they were thwarted each time either by the penalty area management from Urgen, or their own difficulties finding the target which saw Dipendu Biswas’ charges went into the breather with a solitary goal lead.
Following the pause for half-time Sikkim Himalayan came straight out of the blocks controlling the ball, winning set pieces and keeping Mohammedan SC pinned into their own back third.
The constant attacking by Sikkim Himalayan eventually wore down the Mohammedan SC defence to the point where a heavy touch allowed Eugene to steal possession and slot the ball past Priyant to restore the parity for the locals in the 62nd minute.
That goal was what Sikkim Himalayan needed as it gave them confidence against a side which had been running rings around them. With a couple of personnel changes, the locals started looking more and more competitive forcing Priyant and his back-line to work a little harder than they’d needed to in the first period.
The back and forth continued with Mohammedan SC slowly gaining more possession, and creating more chances as the started to dominate the midfield until eventually they got the break they were looking for when Vanlalbiaa find the net with a powerful drive at the end of a determined run and cross from the left by Tirthankar in the 79th minute.
The match started to become a little tenser as the clock counted down with Sikkim Himalayan showing great determination in their pursuit of an equalizer, while Mohammedan SC players tried to kill the game’s rhythm and they did what they needed to secure third Sikkim Governor’s Gold Cup title.
“I am really excited. We were here to win, obviously everyone is, but I’m excited we did it,” Mohammedan SC technical director Dipendu Biswas said.
While expectations on the match were high, Biswas said the execution of the game plan from his players was spot on.
“I think I should say thank you to all the players, everyone, especially in the second-half. There was a bit of pressure coming but we stuck to the plan and defended well.” he added.