|Pritam Bahadur fails to score; Kerala confirmed for final berth|
(Manipur Mail) 02 November 2002, 09:30 IST
Defending champion Kerala confirmed the berth for final today defeating Services 3-2 in the first Semi-final match of the Championship. It was an exciting match on both sides; Kerala began with a determination right from the beginning, their strikers attacking with speed.
Though they lacked some punch going forward, the Services were well organized and quick to counter. Ignatious S of Kerala attempted for the first goal in the 3rd minute of first half who kick over the bar. Kerala tried to put pressure on opponent side with this attempt but Services fought back.
In a counter attack Jhoney F Gangmei opened the account for Services in the 9th minute by a well header, crossed from ace striker Preetam Bahadur. Kerala did not change their rhythm of match by the goal. In the next three minutes from first goal, Asif SaheerT equalised the score after a fine cross from his brother Shabeer Ali T.
Another shot for Services came from Jhoney F Gangmei in the 15th minute hitting at bar, caused Kerala custodian a little trouble. In next fine minute Raghu Kumar missed a chance to touch to net.
Asif Saheer T again scored a beautiful goal with a bicycle-kick in the 22nd minute, this was the most beautiful goal shot so fir in this championship. With this goal, Kerala led the goal score in the first half time.
Kerala's goal attempt die not stop, Ignatious S was the culprit as his shot was saved by Abungobi in the 32nd minute. The first caution of the match was awarded to Sameer K of Kerala in the 35th minutes of first half.
Fishing pace of Services became quicker during the last five minutes, as two good chances were missed by the Services. The two misses came from Preetam Bahadur, who already scored sixth goals of the championship in the 42nd and 45th minutes respectively.
Purushothaman TG, the custodian of Kerala was booked a yellow card by the referee in the first half injury time for his punch charge outside the D-box.
The second half kick off not like the first half did for Services. In this time, Services are moving behind, as Kerala with seven players from State Bank of Travancore, looking more dangerous. Ignatious S missed his third goal attempt after a well cross from midfielder Ajayan K in the 60th minute.
Services equalized the goal score in the 69th minute; Pradeep Debnath took the opportunity by a header from a corner from Pradeep Debnath. Match suddenly changed as Kerala again fought back after the goal.
Kerala were trying their best to score more while Services were spirited from the second goal. Finally in the 79th minute Indian Star Ajayan K netted the winning goal for Kerala assuring a berth for grand finale.
Asif Saheer T was awarded the most valuable player of the 1st Semifinal match. With this win Kerala will play its tenth final match with the winner of Manipur and Goa. The final match of the championship will played on November 5.
After the match Services Lt Col Joy Chatterjee lodged a complaint with the organizer for the poor referee decision. In his written complaint, he mentioned that (I) one player of Kerala pulled out the ball from the goal line, (II) the caution against the Kerala custodian should have been a red card.
Kerala: Purushothaman TG, Bineesh K, Muhammed Shafeeq VM, Vinu Jose, Sameer K, Suresh Babu, Ajayan K, Shabeer Ali T, Ignatious S, Abdul Noushad KM, Asif Saheer T.
Services: Abungobi Singh, Anish Sharma. Ignatious, Santa Kar, Amit Aich, Bikash Gurung, Irduran, Jhony F Gangmei, Pradeep Debnath, Raghu Kumar, Pritam Bahadur.