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Santosh Trophy Qualifiers: Kerala thrashes Andaman and Nicobar


They had been whipped 8-0 by Puducherry a couple of days ago but for nearly 40 minutes on Friday, the Andaman and Nicobar men appeared to have consumed some magic potion.

With a heady mix of stout defending and a goalkeeper Abdul Aziz who held fort brilliantly, the islanders kept Kerala from scoring during that phase in the Santosh Trophy South Zone qualifiers at the Nehru Stadium here.

But the magic began to wear off soon after that. And Kerala woke up and made amends for its poor finishing by scoring thrice in an eight-minute spell late in the first half and then added six more in the next half to finish with a 9-0 victory that carried it to the top of the four-team Group ‘B’ after its second win.

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Jessin Thonikkara and substitutes Nijo Gilbert and Muhammed Safnad scored two goals each for the host. Midfielder Arjun Jayaraj’s goal, the host’s fifth, was the best of the lot. Jayaraj, the team’s key player, had a nice one-two with a teammate before sending a fiery shot that beat the goalkeeper Aziz hollow.

Meanwhile, Lakshadweep surprised as it forced Puducherry to a 1-1 draw with both the goals coming off penalties. The next set of matches, which will decide the group winner who will progress to the National football championship’s final phase, will be played on Sunday.

RESULTS

Kerala 9 (Nijo Gilbert 29 & 81; Jesin Thonikkara 45+1 & 45+2; Arjun Jayaraj 70, Muhammed Safnad 80 & 90+3; Salman Kalliyath 85) bt Andaman & Nicobar 0.

Puducherry 1 (John Maju 17-pen.) drew with Lakshadweep 1 (K.P.P. Abdul Hashim 90+4-pen.).

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