Santosh Trophy 2019-20: Kerala beats Tamil Nadu, qualifies for final stage

Not merely Bino’s boys won 6-0 against Tamil Nadu and thus qualified for the final phase of the Santosh Trophy, but they played some marvellously entertaining football.

Brace: M.S. Jithin about to score the first of his two goals for Kerala.   -  K. RAGESH

“Bino Geroge, Bino George,” they chanted from the stands. The Kerala coach waved at them, sporting an almost embarrassed smile. He deserved those cheers from an excellent crowd at the Corporation Stadium on Saturday.

Not merely Bino’s boys won 6-0 against Tamil Nadu and thus qualified for the final phase of the Santosh Trophy, but they played some marvellously entertaining football, too. And they did that when all they needed was just a draw to win Group A in the South Zone qualifiers.

Tamil Nadu had no answer to a relentless onslaught from a Kerala side that was brimming with talent and was playing according to a well laid-out plan. In Jijo John and P. Akhil, the team had a resourceful midfield and in front of them were three speedy, skilled strikers —M.S. Jithin, Leon Augustine and P.V. Vishnu.

Some good work under the bar by the Tamil Nadu goalkeeper Dinesh Jerome and a splendid goalline save by S. Sakthivel, meant Kerala had to wait till the 24th minute for the first goal.

Its architect was Jijo, who cut into the box after getting past the Tamil Nadu defenders before releasing a superb square pass to Vishnu.

Beautiful solo effort

There was a beautiful solo effort from Jithin, as well as a back-heeled strike from Jijo himself. For variety, there was a fine long-ranger from substitute Mousoof Naizan, too.

The result: Kerala 6 (P.V. Vishnu 24, M.S. Jithin 33 & 45, Mousoof Naizan 83, Jijo Joseph 90+2, Emil Benny 90+4) bt Tamil Nadu 0.

Sunday’s match: Telangana vs Puducherry (3.30 p.m.).

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