Kerala’s football fans appear to have given up on the Santosh Trophy even before the start here.

The 67th National championship’s Kochi leg kicked off at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Thursday evening but there were less than a thousand fans to watch the action.

The match too had a dull start with few interesting moves. Goa, a former five-time champion which has nearly a hundred players in action in the I-League, defeated Chhattisgarh 2-1 in a qualifying round I Group ‘D’ game that warmed up only in the second session.

After a listless first half, Goa found the net through Inacio Colaco (63rd min) and Velito D’cruz (68th) and Chhattisgarh’s Ram Ishwar Mahato reduced the margin in the injury time.

Goa took time to settle down. But once it did, it was a constant threat to its rival.

Earlier, Chhattisgarh had a good chance to grab the lead in the 41st minute. With the Goan goalkeeper Melroy Fernandes out of position, Bhoj Raj Chandrawanshi had an open goal in front of him. But defender Wellington Fernandes rushed in from the right and headed out the danger in the nick of time.

A colourful display by nearly 2000 students marked the opening of the championship. But there were few to savour it.

The result: Group D: Goa 2 (Inacio Colaco 63, Velito D’cruz 68) bt Chhattisgarh 1 (Ram Ishwar Mahato 90+1).

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