KERALA BEGAN THEIR campaign to qualify for the 75th edition of the Santosh Trophy with a 5-0 rout of Lakshadweep.
In a match that saw footballing action return to Kochi's famous Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium after a long break (Even though the spectators weren't there due to COVID precautions), the home team started early with the fireworks. Just 4 minutes in, Nijo Gilbert converted a penalty to give Kerala the lead.
The momentum remained with Kerala as Jessin Thonikkara soon doubled their lead with the clock showing just 12 minutes. Lakshadweep tried to put up a fight but Mohammed Thanveer's own goal late in the first half did not help their cause. They also ended up with 10 men for most of the game, and although through most of the second half they worked hard to minimise the damage from Kerala's attack, S Rajesh found the net around 82 minutes in before Arjun Jayaraj found the fifth in added time.
In the second match of the day, beat Andaman and Nicobar Islands 8-0 with Sri Rajendra Prasad scoring twice for the victors while Alson notched up a hat-trick.
Kerala will take on Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Pondicherry will face Lakshadweep on 3rd December. With only one slot for progression to the final round available in the group, it seems inevitable that this battle will come down to the clash between Kerala and Pondicherry which takes place on 5th December.