Neroca FC came away with the Imphal derby bragging rights, posting a 3-1 victory over Tiddim Road Athletic Union (TRAU) FC at the Khuman Lampak stadium in Imphal on August 18.
Tangva Ragui put the Orange brigade ahead as early as the 16th minute, only for Komron Tursunov to equalize three minutes later. Thomyo then headed in to put Neroca FC ahead again, before Nigerian John Chidi took advantage of a defensive error to score the insurance goal, in the 50th minute in the second half. This was the first game in Group C and more importantly, the first-ever Durand Cup football match in the state of Manipur.
The match started with end-to-end football with both sides not willing to give an inch. TRAU in-fact had the first real chance as Neroca defence was caught but keeper Soram Porei was more than up to the task.
Then came the goal, a good team effort by the Orange brigade involving John and a cross from Lunminlen Haokip which was brilliantly side-footed into the net by Tangva who literally bulldozed into the box.
Neroca’s joy was short lived however as the classy Komron Tursunov got on the scoresheet, getting at the end of a cross from Khanngam.
Attacks continued from both ends with Neroca FC slowly getting the upper hand and they finally got their reward when Thomyo headed in from a cross by the overlapping Singson.
The Orange supporters were definitely the happier going into the break and they would remain so till the end.
Any hopes of a win that TRAU FC would have nurtured going into the break, evaporated just five minutes into the second-half and largely of their own doing. John Chidi always lurking around, intercepted a catastrophic back-pass to the keeper and calmly slotted home and Neroca were 3-1 up in the derby.
TRAU did give it their all in the last 10 minutes or so to be fair but keeper Porei stood tall. The best chance they had of getting one back came in the fourth minute of added time when Arjun Singh found Komron with a brilliant cross from the right, but to everyone’s surprise, the Tajik missed a relatively easy tap-in by his standards.
Earlier, the first Durand Cup match at Imphal began with attractive band display and a performance by singers Papon and Rewben Mashangwa. Defence minister Rajnath Singh and Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh were among the guests who watched the match from the packed stands.
Biren Singh, a former winner of the Durand Cup, was presented a photo of the 1981 final match by defence minister Rajnath Singh. Biren Singh was a part of the BSF team in 1981 which lifted the Durand Cup trophy by defeating JCT FC by 1-0.