Goa, Kerala; Bengal and Mizoram look to reach Santosh Trophy final (Preview)

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Bambolim (Goa), March 22 (IANS) Goa will take on Kerala for a place in the national football championship for the Santosh Trophy final after a gap of eight years while Bengal and Mizoram lock horns in another semi-final here on Thursday.

Goa captain Felix D’Souza lifted the 2008-09 Santosh Trophy alongside former India players like Mahesh Gawli and Climax Lawrence but since then they have endured a dry run.

Kerala on their part, will look to brush aside the disappointment of the 2012-13 season when they lost on penalties to defending champions the Services in the summit clash. They last won the title in 2004-05.

Francis Fernandes and Marcus Mascarenhas, two players who were a part of the Goa team that lifted the trophy that day, would know the enormity of the situation at hand.

Goa haven’t been in cruise control mode in any of their matches.

A scrappy 2-1 win over Meghalaya in their opening match was followed by dull draws against Bengal and Chandigarh respectively.

However, the last gasp win over the Services would give them plenty of confidence going into this crucial game.

“The boys are looking forward to the semi-finals tomorrow. The win against the Services has given plenty of confidence to the boys and we would hope to avenge our semi-final defeat last year and play the final in front of our home fans” Goa coach Mateus Costa said.

Kerala, on the other hand have had a relatively easy ride to the semis, qualifying with a game to spare.

Striker Jobby Justin, Asharudeen and captain Usman P in attack would be looking to exploit the Goan defence with their pacy runs and sharp finishing while Asharudeen would look to provide all the ammunition from midfield.

In the other semi-final, Bengal, winners of the Santosh Trophy for a record 31 times, will look to outpace Mizoram and clinch the crown after a gap of six years.

–IANS

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