Bengal to lock horns with Manipur while Kerala faces Chandigarh on the opening day of 72nd Santosh Trophy final stage

Santosh Trophy

72nd Santosh Trophy kicks off today,here,in Kolkata, as the 32 time champion West Bengal will be squaring off against dark horse of the tournament, Manipur in group A; while Kerala will kick off against Chandigarh in another group A fixture.

The city of Joy has hosted the tournament on nine occasions and every time Bengal have won with flying colours. However, this time the defending champions are wary of “lack of preparation” as conceded by coach Ranjan Chowdhury.

In a country of 125 crore people,the mini powerhouse , Manipur with a population of 27 lakh,has contributed immensely towards Indian Football by providing plenty of quality players for the recently held FIFA U-17 World Cup. They are back again  in the this edition of the Santosh Trophy 2018;  with an aim to win it for the 2nd time with a horde of talented players facing current champions West Bengal who will try to keep up with their perennial record in their first opening match  on Monday at the Sailen Manna stadium in Howrah; after the qualifiers which took place earlier this month.

There is immense pressure on the  West Bengal team led by captain Jiten Murmu who will be looking  forward to make a mark by defending  the title for the 33rd time .The ordeal that the West Bengal team faced was discouraging.Despite several shortcomings like last minute additions,poor ground conditions and lack of training sessions in the team ,head coach Ranjan Choudhury is confident and positive about the fact that the usual favourites will make it to the final stages with whatever facilities that are available.

While it will be a battle of supremacy in Howrah, Rabindra Sarobar Stadium will witness a battle of nerves when a sublime Chandigarh meets another “Santosh Giant” Kerala. All eyes will be on the prolific youngster KP Rahul as Kerala would look to overcome the mediocrity crisis they are being slammed about as they will be eyeing their 6th glory this year.

It will be an interesting day as both the clashes will be typically significant in this group which is deemed as the group of death along with the likes of Maharashtra another favourite waiting in the fray.Both the matches will kick-off at 3pm.

Group A: Bengal, Chandigarh, Manipur, Kerala and Maharashtra                                        Group B: Goa, Mizoram, Odisha, Punjab and Karnataka.

Opening day’s fixtures: Manipur vs Bengal (Howrah Maidan)
                                                  Chandigarh vs Kerala (Rabindra Sarovar).
Time- 3.00pm (IST)

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