Hub Super League Final: The Lamka Derby
Lakma Derby

The Hub Super League is full of surprises, close encounters, and nail-biting moments. The distinctive gap between small and big teams has drastically decreased, and almost every game has produced magical moments for the fans. The league has yet again proved the dominance of established clubs over makeshift amateur teams, with Lamka Sports Club (LSC) and New Lamka Youth Club (NLYC) being the two most decorated clubs in Lamka making it to the final.

The Lamka Derby between Lamka Sports Club and New Lamka Youth Club, located in this small town dating back to the early 80s, has been providing the best matches, the best legacies, the best fans, the best atmosphere, and of course, the best football. Both clubs have had periods of dominance and will look to add to their silverware collection on Sunday.

After a tightly contested semi-finals, Lamka Sports Club (LSC) and New Lamka Youth Club (NLYC) came out triumphant, booking their slot into the finals. In the first semi-final match, Champions Sports first lead the game, building up their hopes of playing in the final. But lacking consistency and momentum, they lost to Lamka Sports Club at the final whistle. In the second semi-final, in what is counted to be the most hyped match throughout the league, Zamkhup FT standing tall after earning a direct spot to the semi-final were fans’ favourites. But New Lamka Youth Club, with their style of play and grit, outplayed and pressurised Zamkhup, making the match a thrill to watch, and came out the winner booking their slot into the final.

New Lamka Youth Club, a young team full of speed and skill, is rightfully here in the finals, winning the hearts of fans with their style of play and grit. Qualifying for their first final in a major tournament in years, they aim to revive their glorious past and once again become the powerhouse of Lamka football. Perhaps, it is destiny that these sides are here yet again, and it is now NLYC’s time to shine and make a fresh start, erasing the memories of their stumbling blocks lately.

However, Lamka Sports Club has experienced players who have shown they can never be counted out and are not a side to be taken lightly. The solidity in their attack, the quality of players, and their ability to hold and defend their lead while soaking up the pressure from their opponents are factors that quickly make the team a pleasure to watch. This side has justified the tagline of being the tournament favourite by outclassing all their opponents.

A quick look into the final

Lamka Sports Club: The District Super Division champion Lamka Sports Club had a solid start to the league, triumphantly earning direct qualification to the semi-final. With nine wins, they qualified for the semi-final and played an exciting game of goal-fest against Champion Sports in the semi-final. Trailing 4-1 at one stage, they ultimately came back and won the game 7-6.

While their key player, Manglienboi, is yet to perform his best in the league, it has not caused many problems because LSC. Sanglian and Suanlal were clinical in front of the goal. Manglienboi is one of the candidates to win the league’s best player. Mangboi has consistently destroyed the opponents’ attacks throughout the league. His presence all over the field was a treat for the eyes. Suanlal has been in form throughout the tournament and part of most of the critical moments for LSC, both in attack and defence.

Sanga and Seiboi have been the best defensive duo of the tournament. While Kaisangboi has not been fully tested in front of the goal, he has produced some crucial saves in the league, the most recent against Thanglun of Champion Sports.

A crucial factor that may give LSC a slight edge over NLYC is that they have won the recently concluded (L) T.Lianboi Simte Memorial Super Division League 2022. Consistency can be a deciding factor in these games, and LSC will have the edge over their counterparts. But it will come down to whether Sanga, Mangboi, and Sanglian can stifle the rampage of attack from NLYC and recover the balls for Manglienboi to score goals. A rejuvenating performance from him may see LSC winning the Hub Super League.

New Lamka Youth Club: New Lamka Youth Club won 8, lost 1 of their league matches, and qualified for the quarterfinal with a perfect twenty-four points. Their campaign highlights that they are the team with the most goals in the league round, scoring 141 Goals. Thangson and Letminlian were superb on the pitch, controlling the entire game’s tempo. They ran riot through their opponent’s midfield and exerted dominance in the game.

NLYC knocked out Zamkhup FT in the semi-final, the game went rampage, and NLYC showed spirit and strength, coming out the victory on multiple occasions, thanks to sublime performances from their goalkeeper Muanlian, a prime candidate for the Best Keeper award.

The resilience and grit of the NLYC is something worth fairy-tale stories should the team go on to lift the trophy on Sunday. Coming back from three goals down and winning the semi-final is not an easy task. Thangson stands out as the best performer for NLYC in the league. After signing a noteworthy contract with the Manipur State League outfit Muvanlai Athletics, he has stepped up his form to the point of no return. Tipped heavily to win the tournament’s Best Player award, the New Lamka talisman will give his all on Sunday to lift the Hub Super League title for his boyhood club.

While Thangson has soaked up all the limelight, Craig, the off-duty Kerela United midfielder, has taken up the role of the finisher for his team slotting home 72 goals in total. He unlocked the scoresheet when Letminlian failed to do so. Muankhanlian was marvellous and devastating against Zamkhup FT in the semi-final, scoring the equaliser, assisting the winner, and hitting the bar often. Kaikhup has been on multiple score sheets till now and will be on the lookout for scoring the winner on Sunday. Eventually, when all hope seems to be lost, their final man, the one behind the stick, Muanlian, has saved the ship from sinking numerous times in this tournament. NLYC will look forward to his saves for one last time at the final.

Enervation can be the stumbling block for NLYC since they have played two quarterfinal matches and one semi-final. Their defenders will have the burden of holding on to the aggression from LSC attackers. However, once Thangson and Craig find a way, it will be tough to stop the New Lamkas’ from scoring.

The record shows that NLYC is yet to defeat LSC. The sides met once at the initial stage of the league; LSC has demonstrated their dominance by beating NLYC in what was expected to be a tight contest by 7-4. NLYC will look forward to settling the score and finishing their campaign despite making a slow start to the league. Whether they can do so remains to be seen on Sunday at Hub, the football turf. The champion team will represent Churachandpur in the Futsal League organised by the All Manipur Football Associations (AMFA) in the coming months.

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