CHENNAI: Considering the extreme sultry conditions, a normal rain would have been a welcome relief than watching a rain of goals as Bihar trounced Gujarat 10-0 to register an emphatic victory in cluster seven on Wednesday in the Santosh Trophy National football championship at the Nehru Stadium.
Every edition of the National has to undergo this ritual of mis-match competitions but what was appalling was the standard of play. Prior to the match, the Bihar coach said the team was a little under-prepared because of the elections and the inability of players from the police force to take part in the trials. “We are without at least seven to eight experienced players,” he said as he walked with the team on to the arena.
After the beating that Gujarat received one wondered what would have happened with Bihar in full strength! Nonetheless it was an impressive outing for Bihar’s young bunch. The team’s strength was the nippy forward-line where Debashish Rai, Naveen Thapa and Md Shahbaz excelled.
Countless times these two would race ahead with the defenders desperately trying to catch up. So Vikram Singh did the next best thing, bringing down Shahbaz even as the latter was poised to score. The penalty conceded was smartly converted by Md. Afzal Alam for the second goal after Debashish opened the account with the first of his four-goal spree.
Gujarat players tried bull-dozing their way when regular passing bouts were beyond them but such tactics never sticks. As it happened scoring at will, Bihar slotted in five goals in each half and when the match ended it was debatable who had a greater relief — the Gujarat team or the poor spectators.
The results: Bihar 10 (Debashish Rai 11th, 35th, 78th, 88th, Naveen Thapa 15th, 23rd, 66th, Md. Afzal Alam 14th (pen), Md. Shahbaz 58th, Rajgrih Yadav 82nd) bt Gujarat 0.
Thursday’s match: Rajasthan v HP (4 p.m.), Tamil Nadu v Tripura (6.30 p.m.).