Tamil Nadu defeat dogged Andhra

Tamil Nadu defeat dogged Andhra

Vijay nets in 1-0 victory in drab Pool B encounter

Tamil Nadu defeat dogged Andhra

A  gritty defensive  show was on display as Tamil Nadu began their South Zone qualifiers campaign for the 72nd Santosh Trophy with a 1-0 victory over an improved Andhra here.

Forward Vijay Nagappan's 57th minute strike proved to be the difference in a drab affair at the Bangalore Football Stadium on Saturday.

After their 7-0 thrashing at the hands of Kerala on Thursday, Andhra set up well in defence with as many as 8-9 players in and around the box.

Tamil Nadu, touted the better side, grew into the game slowly and began to attack with purpose, their first real chance coming in the 28th minute.

Ajith Kumar was in on goal with only Andhra custodian Siriki Ganesh to beat, but it wasn't to be as S Vinod tracked back superbly to quash the midfielder's effort by blocking his close range shot.

Nine minutes later, Tamil Nadu knocked the doors once again but lacked the finishing touch in front of goal.

Under-21 midfielder Manimaran K  played a lovely ball from the right flank but Tamil Nadu's frustrating afternoon prolonged as Vijay and Yonathan Basker both failed to get the crucial touch on the ball. Credit has to be given to Ganesh, who got the slightest of touches to make the difference.

Andhra would have definitely been the happier of the two sides at the break and continued to keep their opponents at bay when the match resumed.

The deadlock was eventually broken 12 minutes into the second half with Vijay poking home from close range after the Andhra defenders failed to clear the danger. As Tamil Nadu celebrated, Andhra players stood in surprise contending that the ball had gone out of play in the build-up to the goal.

That was as much as goal action that the small  set of enthusiasts were going to get with both sides engaging in some ugly tackles as the conclusion loomed.

Tamil Nadu next face favourites Kerala in the final Pool B clash. Both sides  have won their games with Kerala boasting a superior goal difference of seven.

The pitch was once again in the spotlight  with Tamil Nadu coach Rajeev Ponnanthari  divulging that even the fittest player he had at his disposal suffered a cramp due to the extreme heat emanating from the ground.

"We are not used to playing on artificial turf. It is a really tough surface because the heat that comes out of it is massive. Even our fittest player, Ajeesh P, found it hard and got a cramp."

The artificial turf at the BFS was laid in 2011 after the Karnataka State Football Association received a grant from FIFA.


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