Karnataka clinch title in style

Skipper Shankar, Vinod Kumar score for State in 2-0 victory over Orissa

Karnataka clinch title in style

Vinod Kumar and returning captain Shankar netted a goal apiece in the second half, helping Karnataka lift the coveted trophy for the fourth time in its 46th edition at the Sir M Visvesvaraya stadium.

During Saturday’s practice session, coach Andrew had said the only ploy in the summit clash would be an all-out attacking game. And judging by Karnataka’s performance, it seemed the boys had soaked up every word like a sponge.
With captain Shankar and Sridhar M returning to the midfield from injury, the hosts played confidently from the kick-off to dominate Orissa, who once again appeared happy to play a defensive game and look to attack on the counter.

Karnataka created many chances but didn’t capitalise. In the 12th minute, Sridhar’s tame shot from the edge of the box was easily held by Orissa custodian Ramesh Chandra Naik and a minute later striker Vinod did well to burst into the box but sold a poor final pass.
Six minutes from the interval, Vinod and Anwar Hussain failed to connect a cross from R Mohan and Sridhar’s crisp long-ranger in the 41st minute was gloved away by Naik.
The hosts finally reaped the benefits five minutes into the second half. Karnataka gained a free-kick and Lokesh M quickly took it, releasing it to Mohan who dribbled down the right and squared it into the box for Vinod to guide it home.

Three minutes into the hour, Karnataka were awarded a penalty by referee L Ajit Kumar Meitei after M Lokesh’s cross caught Sushanta Kumar Jena’s hand. Shankar’s spot kick was blocked by Naik, diving to his left but the medio won the battle in the end, scoring on the rebound.

Coach Andrew said the boys deserved every bit of credit. “They played exceptionally today and stuck to the game plan. I am completely thrilled and happy,” said the coach who was part of the triumphant Karnataka team in 1979. Rewarding the players for recapturing the title after seven years, Karnataka State Football Association president AR Khaleel announced Rs 10,000 for each player.
DH News Service

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