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Goa clinches Santosh Trophy

A. Vinod

LONG WAIT ENDS: Goa regained the Santosh Trophy after a gap of 15 years. — Photo: Mahesh Harilal

KOCHI: Goa clinched the Santosh Trophy for the fourth time with a hard-fought 3-1 win over Maharashtra in the 60th edition of the National football championship at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium here on Monday.

With much at stake, the match had a tentative start with both teams playing it safe and making no attempt to gain a definite control over the proceedings. In fact, the entire first-half was to proceed on a similar fashion as the usually enterprising Goans failed to click in the midfield and Maharashtra failing badly to make good of this advantageous position by holding itself back when the path was open for it to thrust itself forward.

The ball did roll threateningly to either end only towards the end of the initial session and this was prompted by a Goan resurgence fuelled by the hardwork delivered by Nicholas Rodrigues in the company of Freddy Mascarenhas. However, being slow with the release of the ball, both Rodrigues and Mascarenhas were themselves unable to translate their hard toil into a positive outcome.

Same story

The story remained the same on resumption before a fine piece of action by Steven Dias provided Maharashtra with the lead goal and thereby injected a whiff of fresh air to the match as such. Having failed to convert from any of the ten corners that the side had gained until then, Dias for a change checked himself from lobbing the ball into the Goan goalmouth.

Instead, he exchanged a 1-2 with Clifford Kilmo from the flag before darting into the Goan goal-area and crossing the ball to a waiting Soccor Velho. Velho made no mistake as he converted this fine opportunity as he planted the ball into the Goan net with a first-timer.

However, the Goans were quick to return the compliment as they gained a flag-kick almost from the restart.

Nicolau Borges, converting the corner, hooked the ball high into the Maharashtra goal-mouth where it was met by Mahesh Gawli initially. Gawli's header was effectively blocked by custodian Israth Kamal but before any of the Maharashtra defender could clear the ball away, Felip Gomes was right in position to take the rebound and shoot the ball into a vacant net.

The Goans, buoyed by their success, kept up their good work through the remaining minutes of the regulation period but looked completely lost when it came to scoring as Anthony Pereira muffed two sitters and Climax Lawrence failed to convert a penalty awarded in his team's favour after he himself was tripped down by Israth Kamal well within the dreaded area.

Extra time

But Goans finally sealed the issue through two splendid goals in the either half of the extra-time. A throw-in by John Barreto was weakly cleared by Douzy Godinho and Nicholas Rodrigues was quick to collect the rebound and blast the ball home. And finally, it was all over the Maharashtrians as a cross from substitute Joaquim Abranches took control over a cross from Climax Lawrence and made it 3-1.

The Kerala Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy gave away the trophies. The Goans, besides the top prize and a cheque of Rs. 5 lakhs, also returned happy with a bonanza of Rs. 1 lakh announced by the Goa Sports Minister, Pandurang Madkikar.

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