Maharashtra bow out of 37th National Games after loss to Manipur

A heartbreaking loss in the final group game saw Maharashtra bow out of the 37th National Games with a win, a draw and a loss to their names

A heartbreaking loss in the final group game saw Maharashtra bow out of the 37th National Games with a win, a draw and a loss to their names

In the 37th National Games, Maharashtra’s football team showcased remarkable determination, thrilling comebacks, and individual brilliance despite missing some key personnel in the lineup.

The team traveled to Goa, directly from Santosh Trophy Group stage campaign at Kolhapur and faced a tough challenge in a group with three formidable opponents like last season runners-up Kerala, and football powerhouse Manipur, who had been camping in Goa for the last 3 weeks in preparation for the games, considering the tumultuous situation in their home state.

Tough Group and Missing Personnel

Right from the start, Maharashtra’s campaign was an uphill battle. Drawn into a challenging Group B alongside football powerhouses Kerala, Manipur, and Meghalaya, they knew that progress would be hard-earned. Not only were they up against top-tier teams, but they also had to navigate a demanding schedule, playing three games in a span of just six days. The team also missed couple of crucial players in the games, most notably Johnosn Mathews, who is dangerous with his free-kick deliveries and Striker Himanshu Patil, a genuine Goal scoring threat for any opponent.

Mixed Defensive Performances

One aspect that stood out was Maharashtra’s defense, which displayed moments of resilience but also areas for improvement. Over the three games, the team conceded a total of 11 goals, indicating that shoring up the defense will be a priority moving forward. Tightening up at the back would undoubtedly bolster their future campaigns especially in final Rounds of Santosh Trophy.

Mandeep Singh and Arafat Ansari Shine

Amid the challenging circumstances, individual brilliance shone through. Mandeep Singh was one of the standout performers for Maharashtra, scoring crucial goals and showing a knack for being in the right place at the right time. His contributions were instrumental in Maharashtra’s remarkable comebacks.

Arafat Ansari also left a lasting impact with an incredible hat-trick against Manipur, showcasing his goal-scoring prowess and commitment to the team’s cause. These players provided moments of magic that ignited Maharashtra’s campaign. Advait Shinde continued his good form from Santosh Trophy scoring the crucial 2nd goal in the win against Meghalaya.

Courageous Spirit

Throughout the tournament, Maharashtra’s spirit and determination were evident. Despite facing daunting odds, the team rallied from 2-0 down to secure a 2-2 draw against Kerala in their opening game. Against Meghalaya, Maharashtra took a 2-0 lead and despite some late fightback from Meghalaya, the team showed amazing resilience to hold on to the win. Against Manipur, for a brief period, Maharashtra did show a fight dragging the game to 5-3 from 5-1 before eventually losing the game.

Lessons Learned? Hopefully

While they did not advance in the competition, Maharashtra’s journey in the 37th National Games should be an invaluable learning experience for both players and Coaching Staffs too. Competing against high-caliber opponents under tight schedules will provide crucial exposure to the team.

It also illuminated areas for improvement, especially in defense. The Santosh Trophy final round will have powerhouse teams once again and it will be interesting to see what changes the Coaching staff bring in. Maybe a look into bench Strength?

Also Read: Sreenidi make Inter Kashi crawl on Deccan plateau

Also Read: Reliance Foundation Young Champs Triumph in U15 Maharashtra State Youth League 2023-24

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