Manipur all set for Santosh trophy final against holder Bengal

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IMPHAL, May 29: The state youth affairs and sports minister DD Thaisii has declared that Manipur government will award Rs 5 lakhs to Manipur men’s footbal team in case the team manage to lift the prestigious national football championship. The final of the 65th national football championship for the Santosh trophy is to be played tomorrow at the JN Stadium, Guwahati, Assam between Manipur and the defending champion West Bengal. The state YAS minister also declared that the Manipur team will be encouraged with hefty cash reward even if the team fail to lift the trophy. Former YAS minister N Biren Singh, has also informed IFP that Manipur government is all set to encourage Manipur men’s football team with cash rewards whether the team win or lose in the final. In the meantime, manager of the Manipur team, L Dinamani, informed IFP over phone that every members of the team are fully fit to play in the final. There are no injured player in the team and every member of the team are being provided food of their choices particularly Manipuri dishes. Dinamani however expressed regret that Thoiba who scored the winning goal in the semi final against Services could not be part of the team due to two yellow card bookings in earlier matches. Speaking to IFP over phone, Manipur coach S Akendra said his team will not be dettered much by absence of Thoiba though the team management is little bid unhappy about his absence in the final match. He also informed IFP that playmaker and captain of the Manipur team I Nilakumar who was replaced in the semi final is now fit and set to play in the title match. While expressing regret about team management’s inability to field all the players in the team to play in the final, Akendra maintained that team management should be allowed free hand in choosing first 11 player for the summit clash. Coach Akendra mentioned this due to overwhelming pressure being mounted on the team management from numerous phone calls from home state on the matter of selection of first 11 players. . Winner of this year’s Santosh Trophy will be richer by Rs 5 lakhs while the runner-up team will take home Rs 3 lakhs. Manipur is playing Santosh trophy final for the second time since it lifted the trophy at home in 2002. Manipur reached the final after defeating Services in the semi-final while Bengal overcome Railways to set up summit clash against Manipur in another semi final.

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