It’s a fiver for Goa! | sports | Hindustan Times
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It’s a fiver for Goa!

sports Updated: Jun 14, 2009 23:28 IST
Abhishek Hore

Two misses proved too costly for Bengal as Goa, riding on skipper Felix d'Souza's brilliant work under the bar in the tie-breaker, lifted the Santosh Trophy for the fifth time.

It was over for Bengal when Fulgancio Cardozo converted in the nail-biting shootout, after both teams had failed to break the deadlock in the regulation time at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

A lunging Subhashis Roy Choudhury had blocked Nicholas Rodrigues's attempt in the shootout to give Bengal a chance to repeat the act of 1999 when they won their 29th title by humiliating the same opponents at the same venue. That was also the last time they won the Santosh Trophy.

But Subhasish's counterpart Felix d'Souza, who didn't concede a single goal in regulation time in the tournament, was brilliant again. The Sporting Clube de Goa goalkeeper probably made the two most important saves of his career - of Safar Sardar and Lalkamal Bhowmick - in the shootout.

Apart from Cardozo, Climax Lawrence, Bevan d' Mello and John Dias also managed to send Subhasish on the wrong side.

Questions will be raised over why coach Raghu Nandi opted for Sardar instead of someone like Subho Kumar while Bhowmick, usually a cool customer in such situations, will probably rue the miss all his life.

With one team looking to repeat history and the other playing with revenge on mind, the final of the 63rd national championships, in a way, lived up to its billing.

Leading the team in Habibur Rahman Mondal's absence, Snehasish Chakroborty's sorties down the left in the initial few minutes gave the impression that Bengal were desperate to take early honours. The Goa players didn't lack in urgency either, with wingers Wilton Gomes on the right and left-half Nicholas Rodrigues making purposeful moves which, however, didn't really threaten the Bengal wall.

Playing in place of Mondal, Rajib Ghosh was lucky not to be tested by Marcus Mascarenhas and Bevan d' Mello on a regular basis and the inactivity on that front didn't really serve Goa's cause. The Goa midfield, especially with the experienced Lawrence in the centre, should have utilised the void created by Mondal's absence. The India midfielder was expected to be at the heart of maximum moves, but surprisingly, he wasn't.

Though the momentum kept shifting, neither team was successful in disturbing the scorers. With both teams intent on playing the waiting game, a goal seemed unlikely. It appeared as if both were consumed by the fear of failure. But Goa prevailed when it mattered the most.