Kerala, Bengal Set Up Thrilling Santosh Trophy Final


Kolkata: Bengal will have to contend with five-time winners Kerala in their quest for yet another national football title as the two heavyweights clash in the final of the Santosh Trophy at the Saltlake Stadium, here tomorrow.

The 32-time champions Bengal, who ousted Karnataka in a nervy semifinal, will also look to avenge their group stage defeat against Kerala. Bengal veteran duo of Jiten Murmu and Tirthankar Sarkar scored against Karnataka to set up a meeting with Kerala who pipped Mizoram 1-0 in the other semifinal.

Kerala managed a 1-0 win in the meeting at Mohun Bagan Ground but Bengal Head Coach Ranjan Chowdhury feels the final clash is a different game altogether.

Bengal, who will carry the advantage of playing at home, have built their success around a solid defence that has only conceded two goals so far in the tournament, while they relied heavily on quality of Jiten Murmu at the other end.

Nearly half of the Bengal squad members are playing their first Santosh Trophy, with many of them in their early 20s and there are only four survivors from the team that won the title under Mridul Banerjee last year, Ankit Mukherjee, Ranajit Majumder, Sourav Das Gupta and Manotosh Chakladar.

Kerala have not won the trophy since 2005 and lost on penalties to Services in the final five years ago at home in Kochi.