Imphal: The soccer-crazy fans of Manipur on Wednesday thronged Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal to watch the Blue Tigers in action against Myanmar in the Hero Tri-Nation Football Tournament opening match.
Despite an overshadowed sky, not a single seat was left vacant as fans packed the over 35,000 sitting-capacity stadium to witness the first international football tournament in the state.
The second match scheduled on March 25 will be featured Kyrgyztan and Myanmar at the same stadium. The international tourney will conclude on March 28 with the Blue Tigers locking horns with Kyrgyztan.
Addressing the inaugural function of the tournament, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh said that the state is indeed fortunate to host the Hero Tri-Nation International Football Tournament.
It is a moment of pride that the national team has around 5-6 players from the small state, the chief minister said.
Expressing gratitude to the All-India Football Federation, the chief minister appreciated AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey and his team for acknowledging the potential of Manipuri players and giving the State an opportunity to host this tri-nation football tournament.
The chief minister also said that the Youth Affairs and Sports department along with AMFA and other stakeholders is also working towards promoting football and other sports in the State.
CM Biren Singh also highlighted that during the visit of the AIFF president at the closing ceremony of the ongoing tournament, the State will sign an MoU with the AIFF for logistics and other support in setting up a football academy in a bid to develop and promote sports in the state.
The opening session of the tournament was marked by a performance from drummers of Rhythm of Manipur along with other cultural performances.
The inaugural function was attended by YAS Minister Konthoujam Govindas, MLAs, former Union Minister and Padmashree Awardee Thounaojam Chaoba Singh among others.
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The historic match ended with the host nation winning by a solitary goal. Anirudh Thapa guided India to a tidy 1-0 win over Myanmar in the opening match.
Also Read | Thapa helps India beat Myanmar in Imphal tri-nation opener
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