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Thursday, Dec 12, 2019

Santosh Trophy: Bengal begin campaign with easy victory against Manipur

Bengal began their Santosh Trophy title defence with a 3-0 blanking of Manipur on Monday.

football Updated: Mar 19, 2018 20:13 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Bengal defeated Manipur in their opening match of Santosh Trophy on Monday.
Bengal defeated Manipur in their opening match of Santosh Trophy on Monday.(AIFF)

A team from Manipur may have finished above Mohun Bagan and East Bengal in the I-League but when it comes to strength in depth, the football-obsessed state still has some catching up to do.

Proof of that came in the ease with which Bengal won 3-0 against Manipur to start their campaign in the 72nd Santosh Trophy at the Howrah Municipal Corporation Stadium near Kolkata on a blazing Monday afternoon. By the end of the first quarter, they were 2-0 ahead.

Tournament rules bar I-League first division players from this competition but those from the second division are allowed. Bengal fielded five players from Mohammedan Sporting with the rest from the Kolkata league and that seemed to be why they controlled the game.

Sumit Das got a brace, netting in the seventh and 15th minutes before Bidyashagar Singh completed the tally in the 82nd minute.

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In another match at Rabindra Sarovar stadium, Kerala beat Chandigarh 5-1.

Even before they could come to grips with the heat and humidity, Das had put the game beyond doubt. They may have been training after the qualifiers ended but the effort didn’t really show. Das struck first, getting to the end of a ball that Jiten Murmu’s shinned into the horizontal after Tirthankar Sarkar found him with a corner-kick.

A player with Kolkata league club Rainbow AC, Das, 23, then did well to follow up after Murmu released Singh on the right. By the time, Manipur replaced left-back Oinam Singh with LS Hisupulu in the 26th minutes, they had left themselves with a mountain to climb.

Singh got himself on the scoresheet with an angular right-foot blast from the edge of the 18-yard box after a goalline clearance fell favourably. Before that Das could have completed a hattrick. Bengal coach Ranjan Chaudhuri though said he was happy with the way the first match turned out.

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“Given that five players from Mohammedan Sporting joined yesterday (Sunday), I am happy because this result will give them a lot of confidence. However, we still need to improve our combination play. Not much of that though is likely to happen before our next game (against Maharashtra) on Wednesday because we don’t have time,” he said.

Given the weather conditions, Choudhuri also said he would request for a water break in the tournament.

Kerala win big

Jithin MS scored twice, in the 11th and 51st minutes, in Kerala’s big win. Sajith Poulose (18th), Afdal VK (49th) and Sreekuttan VS got the other goals. Vishal Sharma netted for Chandigarh in the 88th minute.

Chandigarh next play Manipur on Wednesday and Kerala take on Manipur on Friday.