“We have not come to make up the numbers; we are here to create an impact,” said Haryana’s experienced midfielder Pankaj Sura, soon after his team landed here for the 67th Santosh Trophy.
On Monday, Haryana forced former five-time champion Goa to a 2-2 draw and entered the quarterfinal league of the National championship here. Former junior international Vivek Kumar struck twice in a 16-minute spell as Haryana claimed the crucial point to finish behind table-topper Goa in the three-team Group ‘D’.
Goa now moves to Kollam for its quarterfinal league matches in Group ‘B’, which also contains last year’s runner-up Tamil Nadu, while Haryana joins host Kerala in Group ‘C’ at Kochi.
Goa took the lead through a smart set-piece play in the 11th minute after earning a free-kick from Khagender’s handball. Agnelo Colaco set up Marcos Pexioto, who guided the ball in to the left of the goalkeeper.
A defensive blunder from Goa brought Haryana the equaliser. Vivek was quick to seize an opportunity inside the box in the 22nd minute after central defender Jayganesh Goltekar fumbled with his clearance. Sixteen minutes later, the entire Goan defence was caught napping again as Vivek trapped a long ball, which beat the defence hollow, and sent a low shot to the right.
Haryana had the chance to put the game to bed just moments later, but Abhishek’s fierce shot, which curved nicely, hit the far post. Goan goalkeeper Melroy was clearly beaten, but Abhishek was unlucky.
Haryana appeared to grow in confidence, but Goa levelled things with a surprise move in the 65th minute. Joe Rodrigues, who had come in for striker Agnelo Colaco just six minutes earlier, raced into the box to meet midfielder Velito D’ Cruz’s high ball. The floater easily beat the Haryana defence, which had appeared solid until that point. Joe stuck out his leg, almost as if poking the ball. The ball went in and the Haryana goalkeeper Machhinder appeared to take a knock too.
The result: Goa 2 (Marcos Pexioto 11, Joe Rodrigues 65) drew with Haryana 2 (Vivek Kumar 22 & 38).
Tuesday’s match: Railways vs West Bengal (qualifying round I, Group A).