AIFF Media Team
NEW DELHI: Nine minutes before the half-time, with Goa already one goal ahead, the huge Goan crowd gathered at the Bambolim Stadium to watch the Santosh Trophy semi-final witnessed something special. A young fearless 18-year-old lad from a remote village in south Goa showed maturity beyond his age.
Receiving the ball from midfield, he turned a defender, ran with speed, did a step over and foxed another defender, dribbled past a third Kerala defender and slammed a powerful shot across the face of goal that crashed into the nylons leaving the Kerala keeper Midhun V. dazed.
The show started after just 14 minutes to be precise. A defensive mistake on the right of the Kerala defence allowed Assumption Soares to break free and cross the neatest of balls to Liston who was ready to slam home past a hapless looking Kerala keeper. Kerala looked a shadow of the side that steamrolled their way into the semi-finals.
Kerala though would not go down without a fight. They came out with much purpose in the second half playing some beautiful football with short passes, intelligent off the ball movement and their strikers and midfielders combining brilliantly, leaving Goa’s defenders on their toes and spectators on the edge of their seats.
On two occasions, Kerala nearly completed their second comeback of the tournament from a 2-0 deficit. Justin was the culprit on the first occasion after his weak shot was saved by Bruno Colaco. Then with thirteen minutes left on the clock, Jijo Joseph's free kick was brilliantly tipped over by Bruno Colaco.
Meanwhile, GFA President Elvis Gomes thanked the Goan fans for turning out in large numbers to support the team. “The screaming fans made a huge difference to Goa and lifted the morale of our boys. I urge the fans to come out with the same enthusiasm and vigour in the final against arch rivals Bengal on Sunday”, he said.
In the first semi-final, West Bengal edged past Mizoram 6-5 via the tie-breaker to enter their first final after seven years. The match finished goalless after the end of regulation time and extra time. With a 120-minute of pulsating football, it was left to the lottery of spot kicks to decide the fate of both the teams.
Sunday March 26, 2017, 1800 hours
Goa v Bengal at Bambolim Stadium, live on DD Sports
Posted on : Thursday March 23, 2017