Football

Santosh Trophy: Kerala confident of a strong show

Honing their skills: The Kerala players at a practice session in Neyveli on Saturday.

Honing their skills: The Kerala players at a practice session in Neyveli on Saturday.  

Host Tamil Nadu ready for the challenge as well

It’s not going to be an easy route to the top for defending champion Kerala, but its coach V.P. Shaji is confident of pulling it off in the South Zone qualifiers of the 73rd Santosh Trophy 2018-19 which begins at the Bharathi Stadium here on Sunday.

The team is placed alongside Telangana, Puducherry and Services. “It’s a tough group. I have told my boys to go out there and give it their best shot from the start,” said Shaji.

The champion tag has certainly added to the pressure for Kerala. “The feeling is great but the pressure is going to be enormous. Every match is crucial, particularly against Services, but we are prepared,” he added.

Stars will be missed

The team relies on its youngsters to do the job. “It’s a mix of youth and experience. Of course, we will miss the services of some of the stars who had taken the team through in the last edition,” said Shaji.

Host Tamil Nadu, which missed out on the berth narrowly last year is slotted in a three-team group. The team’s coach V. Soundararajan said that could well cause some headache. “We will have to start on a winning note against Andhra Pradesh. It’s not about winning alone, but scoring more goals and that’s going to be pretty crucial,” he said.

“We don’t have the key players to guide the young bunch, but they believe in delivering. Strategies have been worked out and the boys are in good shape. We have worked hard and ready for the challenge,” he added.

He said Karnataka will be the team to beat. “It has also injected some young blood and they will be in a similar mood. I don’t want to underestimate Andhra as well.”

The South Zone qualifiers, being held in this part for the first time, is being hosted by NLC India Ltd., in association with the Tamil Nadu Football Association and Cuddalore District Football Association.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 7:05:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/santosh-trophy-kerala-confident-of-a-strong-show/article26163627.ece

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