Principal Correspondent

Titanium (1 point) is now virtually out of contention for a berth to the next phase

KOCHI: He had been watching his Malabar United teammates mess up chance after chance in the Second Division National Football League match here on Saturday evening. Every time they failed, one could see Jacken Sebastian wincing from the bench, clutching his head in his hands.

And when he came in, replacing the off-colour Nigerian Isaiah Ologun in the 75th minute, Jacken appeared to be in a tearing hurry to score.

And the Kerala Santosh Trophy player came up with a winning header, nine minutes after his arrival, as Kozhikode’s Malabar United defeated Travancore Titanium by a lone goal at the Maharaja’s Stadium.

Mediocre

The match, a mediocre affair for a major part, had been a story of missed chances till then. Titanium had forced Viva Kerala, one of the two biggies in the Group ‘C’ here, to a draw in its opener but the Thiruvananthapuram team’s performance has been going down with every game after that.

Titanium appeared to have the edge in the opening session, it even came close to scoring in the 41st minute when Shabeer hit the right post, off a Rajesh freekick.

But Malabar United held the upper hand in the second half with R. Prasoon sending a string of crosses from the left to K. Asif and Nigerian Jackson Victor Ochuko.

But Asif failed to latch on to a lovely one in the 46th minute while Jackson Victor sent a low header wide after pulling the Titanium goalkeeper Navas out shrewdly with his dangerous run in the 72nd minute.

In between Titanium’s Enoch Amoago, Ebin Rose and Cleetus tested the Malabar goalkeeper R.A. Renjith, who came in for the injured P. Siyas in the 55th minute.

Smart goal

Malabar United’s goal came off a corner and Jacken smartly guided Shakkil Patel’s shot in, forcing goalkeeper Navas to dive the other way.

Titanium, which has two losses and a draw (1 point) in the five-team group, is now virtually out of contention for a berth to the next phase while Malabar has four points from two games but is yet to face the strong Salgaocar and Viva Kerala.

There will be no match on Sunday and on Monday, Malabar United meets Salgaocar.

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