Kerala progress after TN draw

Kerala progress after TN draw

Kerala staved off a spirited fight from Tamil Nadu to progress to the Santosh Trophy after an entertaining 0-0 draw in their final South Zone qualifying Pool B fixture here.

Going into their last league encounter needing just a draw, Kerala refused to sit back and looked determined to put on a good display for the small pocket of their fans who had gathered at the Bangalore Football Stadium on Monday.

Tamil Nadu were equal to the task and came out a well-knit defensive unit.  

It was Kerala who had a first sight at goal in the 12th minute as Sajith Poulose found himself unmarked in the box and at the end of a cross from Jestin George. Despite the forward getting a good connection with his head, he failed to hit the target.

Vibin Thomas, who scored a brilliant 35-yard free-kick against Andhra on Thursday, tried his luck again from range in the 28th minute. Putting his laces through the ball from 25-yards out, Vibin forced Tamil Nadu goalkeeper Manikandan M into an acrobatic save to his right.

Tamil Nadu had a chance of their own just before the break when Manimaran darted into the box but failed to guide Ajith Kumar's cross goal-ward.

The second half was no different as both sides pushed with the best chance of the game falling to Kerala midfielder Jithin MS in the 74th minute.  

After a clever run into the area, Jithin attempted a left-footed shot to the far post. Manikandan, who was superb throughout the afternoon, got down to his left quickly and made a vital stop with his foot. But with  Tamil Nadu forwards lacking incision, they had to settle for a draw and disappointment of not making it to the main tournament.

In a boost to football in the State, Karnataka State Football Association (KSFA) president NA Haris confirmed that his body had officially submitted a request to the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to grant them permission to have the tournament proper in Benagluru.

"We have sent the request to the AIFF and are hopeful of getting the official confirmation from them very soon," he said.

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