Match Report:Manipur Vs Kerala

 

In the 9th match of the 72nd edition of Santosh Trophy ,we witnessed the emerging football capital of India, Manipur facing  God’s own country ,Kerala. Manipur started with the kick off and  operated  from right  to  left  while Kerala moved  from left to right.

Kerala initiated their first attack in the second minute of the game  with the  ball  being played inside the box without  any receivers for the pass.Manipur made their first probable attack in the third minute with a ball out to the right ,which they lost possession of easily giving Kerala defenders the chance to set up a counter attack but the Manipur goalkeeper Salam Singh collected  it safely .Kerala received their first free-kick fin the fifth minute as defender Lijo S took it from outside the box which went flying above the woodwork. Manipur enjoyed better possession  of the ball in the initial moments and were trying to  penetrate pass the penalty line  but Kerala defenders held their ground  strong.Kerala found it really difficult to penetrate through Manipur’s 5-man defense as Manipur created mild chances for their side and continued with their attack. Keralites were slowly  building  up but a series misplaced passes where being  intercepted by Manipur. Manipur came close to scoring in the thirteenth minute  with a lob into the box and then with a pass from the left attacker who found the striker but Kerala  averted the attack. Manipur ambushed the Keralian woodwork with  long shots but the same were going  wayward and did not cause any serious concern for  Kerala.

Manipur have been threatening since the beginning of the game  despite Kerala having major possession of the ball , as defender Chingakham Singh’s took  ambitious shot  in the twentieth minute from almost 40 yards that  wheezed out over the post and almost caught goalkeeper Midhun V napping who managed to push it away .  Kerala got  a beautiful chance  in the twenty second minute to score but the forward failed to get the final touch on the ball.Manipur goalkeeper Salam Singh and Kerala’s captain Rahul V Raj kissed the ground in the twenty fourth minute when both collided midway in the air.  Salam Singh tried to collect a low cross into the box and in the moment partially injured himself.Team  Kerala were finally getting some momentum into the game with some smooth moves but were yet to create chances to trouble Manipur.

Kerala created  their first chance in the 24th minute when right-back Lijo S showed great determination, before putting in a dangerous cross into the box, but Manipuri keeper Salam Singh bravely put his body on the line to clear it out. Salam Singh the Captain of Manipur lured some medical attention  from the previous clash and was taken off the field while being replaced by jersey no. 1 of Manipur Loitongbam Singh.The game was majorly  concentrated to the mid-field as both the teams were unable to establish a strong build up. Kerala finally created  a good chance when striker Sanjith Poulose went past a few Manipuri defenders as the  ball scrambled to U-21  player Rahul KP inside the box, whose shot was cleared off the line which was followed by a counter from Manipur ,but an inaccurate pass broke  down the attack for the team. Manipur continued with their attacks  but failed to add any concern to the life of the Kerala defenders.

Manipur’s striker Jerry Pulamte had two chances of  scoring, with his first shot from 30 yards in the forty fifth minute that  was shakily collected by the keeper, but there were expectations from him to bury the second one into the goal .It had  been a cagey first  half of football  with Manipur creating more chances. Their strikers should’ve done better to bury some of the possible chances that they got , while Kerala created arguably the biggest chance when Rahul KP’s shot was cleared off the line.Kerala made a breakthrough as  Manipur struggled  to clear a corner and Rahul KP”s powerful header send the ball into the box , which was anticipated by super-sub Afdal VK, who calmly finished the goal inside the net  to put his side in the lead. Afdal VK made a remarkable difference for Kerala again as he made  progressive  runs towards the  goal constantly  troubling the opposite side’s defenders but team  Manipur were managing it well.

In the first substitution for Manipur No.7  midfielder Jiteshwor Singh was sent off and No.8 Naorem Singh was brought in.Kerala doubled their lead in the sixty first minute with  a fantastic counter-attack from them  with winger Jithin MS putting  in a delightful cross into the box. that fell in Rahul KP’s line  whose first attempt was cleared off, but he manged to score in his next shot. Kerala faced an  injury scare in the sixty seventh minute  as Jithin M.S. was  down on the right wing. He was finally up on his feet and Kerala breathed  a sigh of relief.In the seventieth minute  Kerala made another substitution  bringing in midfielder  No.12 Sreekuttan VS on for Anurag P.C .They continued with their goal succession  with another goal in the seventy third minute. Jithin MS showed great awareness to steal the ball from Manipur’s defense before making a stunning run towards the box and calmly finished it  to get a deserving  goal after a stunning 2nd half performance.

Kerala received  another free-kick in the dying moments of the match outside the box enabling  Vibin Thomas with a low drive that led to  fumble by the goalkeeper but the Kerala striker side netted the ball. Team Manipur were trying hard to get back into the game but again their  passing let them down. Due to the hot and humid weather there was cooling break again in the seventy eight minute . Sreerag G  did  a great job in winning ball in midfield and was  freed on the left-wing from where he played  the ball to Rahul KP, whose initial attempt was cleared off but fell right to Jithin Gopalan’s  line  who made no mistake in burying it into the goal creating a massive lead in the eighty second minute . Kerala faced another injury scare as ball hit one of the Kerala defenders from strong shot by Manipur .Kerala  played some scintillating football in the second half and absolutely surprised the Manipuri side  with their attacking movement. It’s been a five star performance from them in the second half, with this defeat knocking out Manipur from the 72nd Santosh Trophy,2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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