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2017 – a watershed year for Manipur team

by Rinku Khumukcham
0 comment 3 minutes read

By- Wahengbam Tiken

When one looks back at the history of the Manipur Polo International tournament, the 11th edition will stand as a watershed moment for the Manipur team. When the team went into Manipur Polo International 2018, they were under tremendous pressure having lost the last two editions of the tournament. In the final of the 9th edition held in 2015, USA defeated India B represented by the state team 5-4, in a very keenly fought match which went into extra chukker, to earn the distinction of being the first foreign team ever to lift the Manipur Polo trophy. Ironically, Manipur had defeated USA 7-6 in the group match. The story was no different for the host team in the 10thedition of the tournament, where they lost in the final to Australia rather tamely by 6-9. Here again, Manipur had defeated Australia 7-4 in the group match.
People then, had started raising doubts about the competence of the Manipur team to face upto the challenge of foreign teams who are getting the hang of playing polo on the Manipuri pony. Many had believed the dominance of the local team in this tournament was well and truly over. Against this background, the Manipur team led by T Pradeepkumar and comprising of S Bimol, P Ojit, L Atangba, Jogendro Meitei  and Th Jacob played some wonderful polo all throughout the tournament and by the time the curtains came down they had shown emphatically that the time has not yet come to write off the Manipur team.
Manipur began their campaign in last year’s edition with sound thrashing  of Morocco, defeating the African team 15-2 in their first group match. In the next group match, England was at the receiving end of the brilliance of the Manipur team losing by a huge margin of 8-3. Unlike the group matches, the semi-final match proved to be a very tough one. USA matched the host team in every department of the game and gave the fans of Manipur a fright. Eventually, Manipur scrapped through 7-6 to meet Argentina in the final.
Argentina came into the final with a fair bit of confidence having defeated England comprehensively by a margin of 10 goals to 5. Earlier, in the group matches Argentina trounced the India A team 10-5 but in the second match they were held to a 4-4 draw by a strong showing from USA. The final match proved to be a sheer entertainer with fortune swinging from one team to the other. Manipur eventually emerged victorious defeating Argentina, one of the strongest polo playing teams in the world 7-6. While the jubilant Manipur team’s joy knew no bounds at wining the trophy after a gap of two long years, the Argentine team members, all fiercely competitive sportspersons, were crestfallen at the defeat. As Juan Cruz who scored four of the team’s six goals said, “We don’t feel good about losing”.
Winning and losing is part of the game, and the players know it only too well. But such is the expectations of the fans of the Manipur team that they want them to win every time they take the field. And as Manipur team begin their campaign in the 12th Manipur Polo International 2018, the players carry this expectations of their fans as also their blessings and wishes. 

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