National Games 2022: West Bengal beat Kerala to win gold in men’s football

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    West Bengal punished pre-tournament favorites Kerala’s defensive weaknesses with a 5-0 win at Eka Arena TransStadia on Tuesday to clinch gold in men’s football.

    West Bengal captain Naro Hari Shrestha scored a hat-trick, Surajit Handsa and Amit Chakraborty scored a point and the team, coached by former Indian striker Biswajit Bhattacharya, had a run before the end of the first half. They had full control of the game.

    Kerala, who reached the final with a record of all wins in the group stage and a comfortable win against Karnataka in the semi-finals, started the final showdown with confidence.

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    Despite lacking an actual shot on goal, the South side appeared to be in control until West Bengal scored against the flow of play in the 16th minute.

    Kerala’s defense

    Kerala defender Sanju G. was guilty of not intercepting his pass back and Surajit Handsa used his ball loose and shot from the right. Goalkeeper Midhun V.  managed to block a low shot, but Robi Handsa was able to capitalize on the rebound.

    Kerala then started to put more pressure on their opponents’ half and three minutes later they had one of the best chances of the day. Bengal goalkeeper Raja Burman narrowly crosses the box and lands in front of Ajeesh P.

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    Two minutes later, after a brawl on the goal line, Bujair Valiyattu slammed the ball over the bar from a six-yard box.

    West Bengal captain Naro Hari Shrestha quickly collected the ball that bounced off the Kerala wall and released a scorcher from 25 yards to hit the Kerala keeper in the left corner.

    Just at half-time, Sanju was guilty of failing to intercept Surajit Hansda’s cross from the left flank, even though he was not near the Bengal striker in the area. Shrestha happily jumped at the mistake that effectively sealed the game’s fate.

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    Shrestha scored a hat-trick with the easiest header in the 52nd minute after a West Bengal counter-attack. 

    Organizers said in a press release on Tuesday that left-back Totan Das piled into Kerala’s box and chipped the ball over the keeper, causing the untagged captain to nod.

    Kerala then increased possession but West Bengal’s defense was tight and did not allow their opponents to put enough balls in the box to create quality scoring chances.

    Defender Amit Chakraborty then completed a short pass from midfield in the 85th minute to put the ball to the right of the advancing Kerala goalkeeper.

    In the bronze medal game, the services defeated Karnataka with his 4-0. Sunil B (2nd), N Sureh Metei (7th), Sreyas VG (13th), and Liton Shil (57th) scored for their service.

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