Karnataka fate in balance as confusion hits tourney

Football: Junior Nationals:

While Karnataka registered their second victory of Group A to finish with six points, defending champions Jharkhand edged Punjab 1-0, thereby making sure that these three teams finished the league phase with six points apiece.

With only the top two teams making the knockout semifinal, goal difference came into play. While Jharkhand enjoy the best goal difference of +3, Karnataka and Punjab are locked at +2. However, Karnataka have scored five goals to Punjab’s four, a factor that should have put them in second spot in the group behind Jharkhand.

It’s precisely the fact that Karnataka and Punjab have the same goal difference which has thrown the organisers into a tizzy. Punjab staked their claim to a semifinal spot by virtue of their 3-1 win over Karnataka, while the latter argued that if the same were to be applied, then they deserved the last four spot following their 1-0 victory over Jharkhand.

Consequently, match commissioner R Samuel was forced to delay a decision on which two teams will make the semifinals until Tuesday morning.

Tournament officials said Samuel would announce the decision on the morrow after consultations with All India Football Federation General Secretary Alberto Colaco.

Colaco told Deccan Herald, “I am awaiting a report from the match commissioner. Based on that,  a  decision will be made tomorrow morning on who the semifinalists will be.”

Karnataka were a picture of complete control during their straightforward win over Tamil Nadu, who lost all their three matches. Just when it looked as if the teams would adjourn to half-time goalless, Lokesh M slotted home in the 42nd minute. Upon resumption, Santosh doubled the lead 10 minutes after the hour and Umashankar Naik sealed the show with a goal in the 87th minute. In the other match, Alween’s 65th minute goal helped Jharkhand beat Punjab.

Results: Group A: Karnataka: 3 (Lokesh M 42nd, Santhosh 70th, Umashankar Naik 87th) bt Tamil Nadu: 0; Jharkhand: 1 (Alween 65th) bt Punjab: 0.

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