There was plenty of pressure on coach Mughato Sumi of the Greenwood School,when his side prepared to make the trip from Kuda village in Dimapur to New Delhi for the Subroto Cup. Having won the U-14 title in 2008 and finished runners up three times since,everyone back home is expecting his side to do well. That situation has only gotten worse now that the coach realises his side has to play the tournament with just ten players. Medical tests conducted a day after they arrived ruled that five members of their 15 player squad were overage.
Despite being a player short,Greenwood sportingly took the field in their opening match against Bhonsale Military School,Nashik,representing Maharashtra. “We couldn’t go back. Because we have such a strong history at the Subroto Cup,everyone expects us to take part and win the tournament. It would have been very awkward for us to go back to Dimapur empty handed,” said coach Sumi.
If the school from Maharashtra had any hopes of making the most of their advantage,they were short lived as the Naga side,pumelled them eight goals to nothing. The Maharashtra school hardly got to benefit from any gap in the Naga defence that may have existed as they spent the entire game camped in their own half. The margin could well have crossed double digits but for some luck on the Maharashtra side,the woodwork was found often. Over the course of the match,the Naga keeper had to make just a single save. Such was the comprehensiveness of the victory that the glum faces in the Naga dugout,were of the players who felt they had missed out on the goal scoring rush. Making the most of his chance,striker Osen scored a hattrick. The hardest thing for him was not piercing Maharashtra’s defence but simply lasting the entire course of his match. “It’s a bit hard because we don’t get to substitute and so I was a little tired at the end. But after we scored the first goals we knew that we were going to be better than them,” said the class eight student.
After the match,coach Sumi said that the win was an expected one. “I don’t think it will be too much trouble for us. In the U-14 level the absence of one player doesn’t really make much difference if the remaining players are strong. My players are talented and I am confident that we can reach the finals this year as well,” he said. However the coach admitted that while his side could indeed perform well with just ten players,he wished the others could have at least got a game. “We have been coming for the Subroto Cup for many years now but have never had this problem. We are still talking to the authorities. I hope all the players will at least get a chance to play before they return to Nagaland,” he said.