To say that Bengal has its task cut out against Kerala in the final of the Santosh Trophy National football championship at the Malappuram District Sports Complex Stadium on Monday night would be an understatement.

Follow the match here: Santosh Trophy Final 2022 Highlights: Kerala wins title, beats West Bengal 5-4 on penalties

Bengal faces a side that stormed into the final after slamming seven goals in the semifinal. That side will be playing in front of some of the most passionate football fans you would come across anywhere in the world – and there would be some 25,000 of them.

When the two teams met early on in the competition, in the group stage, the host had won 2-0. So form too favours Kerala. But Bengal could fall back on history, though. It has won the tournament 32 times and was the runner-up on 13 occasions.

Kerala has lifted the trophy six times. Its last triumph came in 2018, when it defeated Bengal in a shootout at Kolkata.

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Four years and a pandemic later, the two powerhouses of Indian football promise another fascinating final. The focus in this final would certainly be on the Kerala striker T.K. Jesin, who scored five goals after coming on as substitute against Karnataka in the semifinal.

Jijo Joseph is another player Bengal needs to be wary of. The captain has not just been scoring goals for Kerala, but creating them as well.

Bengal is also capable of playing some fine attacking football, as it showed in its 3-0 win in the semifinal against Manipur. Its strikers Fardin Ali Moll and Dilip Orawn could cause concern for the Kerala defence.