IMPHAL, August 24: Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand defeated I-league team United Sikkim FC by 3-0 in the first match of the NE Super Series at the Khuman lampak Main Stadium today.
The match was supposed to be played at the Guwahati Nehru Stadium, however due to the certain difficulties the match was brought to the state capital.
Meanwhile, unhappy with the ground condition, the Wellington Phoenix players helped the organizers water the ground just 10 minutes before the starting of play.
The players also expressed before the organizers to prepare the grounds before organizing any international matches as the players are very conscious about the ground condition.
The match started at 2:15pm, with the spectators warmly receiving the players of both teams.
There were two South Africa, 2010 World Cup players in the Wellington team- Tony Lochhead (Jr no 3) and Jeremy Brockie (Jr No 11).
Jr No 8 Paul Effil (36th), Jr No 24 Tyler Boyd and Jr No 25 Louis Fenton (88th) scored for the New Zealand team.
Even though the crowd turnout was way below the expected, the few who were there seemed quite satisfied with the performance of the New Zealand team.
Though it is obvious from the scoreline that which is the better team; the Sikkim players also played their hearts out and received equal cheering from the crowd.
Though the New Zealand players were more experienced and physically stronger, it did not deter the Sikkim players from playing an attacking play.
Sikkim United’s Korean Goalie, Jr No 1 Yoon Tae also showed a good performance during the match which gained him the support of the crowd.
In trying to overcome the physical strength deficit, the Sikkim team received four cautions. Wellington Phoenix had also received one caution.
Speaking to media persons at the end of the match, World Cupper, Toni Lochhead expressed his happiness in playing and winning the game in a place like Manipur.
He further expressed his desire to play with Lajong and belief that his team will win the second match too.
It may be mentioned that Wellington Phoenix will be playing the Shillong Lajong FC on August 26 at the same venue. The match will start at 2:30pm.
The Lajong team will feature eight natives of the state including former India national player P Renedy Singh, Sushil Kumar, Citrashen.
Other Manipuri natives in the Shillong team are S Basant Singh, M Govind Singh, Kh Jibon Singh, M Subhash Singh and Boithang Haokip.
The Imphal leg of the series is being organized by the Jet Set Public Relation and the All Manipur Football Association.