: As expected, Southern Samity clinched the last semifinal berth in the E.K. Nayanar Gold Cup all-India football tournament at the Corporation Stadium, here on Saturday.
The Kolkatans defeated Army XI 1-0 to take the second spot in Group I, behind Mumbai FC. The winner was netted by Zico Zoremsanga in the 44th minute. He also walked away with the ‘Man of the Match' award.
It was a game that the Kolkatans needed to win as a draw would have helped Shillong Lajong FC to qualify. The win took Samity's tally to six points from three games, one point behind Mumbai. Lajong finished third with three points, while the Army men failed to get off the mark.
In the semifinal on Sunday, Samity will meet Air India. Before that, Mumbai will take on B.N. Railway.
Against Army, Samity wasn't quite at its best. Unlike in its previous two matches, it played within itself. On the other hand, the Army men lacked firepower up front, wasting whatever chances that came their way.
Playing without the dangerous Suroj Mondal, it was Zico and Lalrin Fela — coming in for Sovan Chakraborty early on — that posed regular threats at Army's goal. Their efforts bore fruit in the 44th minute, as Zico beat a defender and goalkeeper, with some style.
Army's best chance to equalise came in the 75th minute, when Kunal Sarkar gave an excellent long ball to Laxman Murmu, who failed to connect. — Principal Correspondent