Orissa shock for Jharkhand

Holders crash out on penalties in semifinal clash with outsiders


With the scores tied at 3-3 after four spot kicks, Jharkhand’s star striker Alween thundered the ball on to the post before Orissa’s Shushanta Kumar Jena calmly slammed the ball home to seal a hard-fought victory at the M Visvesvaraya stadium.
Sudam Soren, Sanathan Lohar and Sheikh Zahid were the others on target for Orissa while Simranjeet Singh, Yumnam Chingkhei and Yaikhom Randhan Meitei converted for Jharkhand.

Coming into the match as favourites after triumphing on three of the last four occasions, Jharkhand had only themselves to blame for their exit. Despite holding possession, they failed to penetrate the sturdy defensive wall of Orissa, who only opted to break sporadically.

Orissa, whose only success in this competition was when they shared the trophy with Kerala in 1969, nearly went ahead as early as in the fourth minute. Jharkhand custodian Ravi Kumar’s mix-up with defender Ravinder Singh almost gifted the ball to an advancing Somanath Naik, but the custodian recovered well in time to grab it.
Five minutes later, Jharkhand survived again when Chingkhei’s attempted clearance off a low cross from the right from Sudam Soren landed the ball in Somanth’s path, but the latter pulled it wide.

Apart from the early adrenaline rush, the rest of the first half lacked any bite, producing no significant goal-bound action. Continuously failing to pierce a stubborn Orissa defence, Jharkhand opted to play long balls into the box in an effort to upset the opposition’s rhythm, but that was also well met.

The second half was almost a mirror image of the first, offering very little promise. Jharkhand too had their moments, only to be denied by some brilliant goalkeeping from Ramesh Chandra Naik.

Naik produced two wonderful saves to keep Orissa in the fray. A minute into stoppage time, he kept out a dangerously dipping curling shot from Yaikhom before diving full length to the right to save the right-winger's shot from close range in the 18th mi-nute of extra time.

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