Siliguri, 18 February: Defending runners-up Assam Rifles, Tezpur, will play in the semi-finals of the Sukuna Gold Cup Football Tournament for the third consecutive time ~ and the man who was named the Player of the Meet in 2012, when they won the seventh edition of the championships that year ~ was largely responsible for this.
Akum Ao was unbelievable in the second quarter final of the 9th Sukuna Gold Cup Football Tournament today, scoring three goals and enabling his team to beat 58 Gorkha Training Centre, Shillong 3-1 at the Sukna High School Ground in Sukna near Siliguri.
Akum’s first goal came in just the ninth minute on a deep run out of the midfield, something that GTC didn’t seem to know how to deal with all day. A perfectly weighted through-ball travelled through the heart of GTC defense in the eight minute. From there, Akum took two touches to set the ball up on his left foot and finished across the keeper in the low right corner. It was clinical.
Akum’s next goal just three minutes before the lemon-break was all too similar. A cross-field through-ball freed up Akum, who was streaking up the left wing unmarked. From there, his speed was too much. After a settling touch, Akum rocketed another left-footed shot into the bottom right corner.
In a match totally dominated by the Tezpur outfit, Amit Kharka, reducing the margin in the 49th minute was very much against the run of play. He made it 2-1 via a penalty kick, which was awarded after he was brought down inside the box.
Assam Rifles, however, struck to its attacking postures and the third goal was the one that removed all doubt, giving the Tezpur team a 3-1 lead in the game and a certain place in the last four.
It was another blistering run from the midfield, another exquisite first touch, another clean finish. This time Akum across from the left, gathered the ball to his right foot, and finished over an onrushing keeper. The GTC fans stood there, dumbstruck.
An almost singularly brilliant performance from Akum, who is playing better than anyone for the past three editions of the tournament, was awarded with the Man of the Match title.
Akum’s team will now take on Gorkha Brigade, Lucknow in the first semi-final of the meet in the Sukna High School Ground on February 21, while at 3.00 pm tomorrow, in the same venue, Royal Football Club of Siliguri will cross swords with Sashastra Seema Bal, Ranidanga in the third quarter final of the tournament.
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