Mizoram earned their maiden Santosh Trophy quarterfinal berth defeating five time champions Kerala in the pre-quarter finals at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Wednesday.
Mizoram will join Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Delhi in one group in the quarterfinal league, which begins on Thursday with Goa taking on Karnataka and Punjab meeting Services.
Kerala had qualified from Cluster VII scoring 18 goals in three matches against Mizoram's 12 in Cluster VIII. But their attacking prowess went missing on Wednesday.
So far in the tournament, Kerala had begun most of their attacks down the right where Brijesh Ben and Rakesh K. combined to seek out Javed O.K. or Sumesh N. running down the middle. It did not happen on Wednesday primarily because Mizoram never lost shape.
Their wide midfielders, R. Vanlalnundanga on the right and Lalrinfela on the left, used the width of the field to create space in the middle and keep Kerala's full backs busy. Consequently, Kerala hardly got opportunities to attack.
Mizoram kept trying to seek out strikers with crosses from the flanks but neither Beikhokhei Beingaichho nor P.C. Lalhlimthara could get to the end of them, both losing out in height.
The way the winner came seemed the only way they could have broken down the Kerala defence. East Bengal striker Beikhokhei, who already has a hattrick to his name in the tournament, played a nice one-two with Lalhlimthara, cut in from the right dodging past two defenders and beat goalkeeper Sarath K. with a well-placed right-footer at the far post.
"We are playing well as a unit," Beikhokhei said, after the match. "If we can show the discipline we showed today, I don't think Bengal would be able to walk all over us like most people are saying."
Mizoram play their first quarterfinal league match against Tamil Nadu on Friday before taking on Bengal on Monday.