The ground was flooded with them- the fans, without whom the match would have not been much celebrated. The Malappuram district which is the epic center of inborn football lovers has been the venue to witness the pulsating night at Manjeri when Kerala and West Bengal came face to face at the final round of Santosh Trophy 2022, the Hero Senior National Football Championship.
Kerala held their nerves to beat Bengal via penalty shootout as they clinched their Santosh Trophy football championship 2022 on May 2 at Manjeri Payyanad stadium. Defeating West Bengal (5-4), Kerala lifted the trophy during the 15th finals. With the victory, Jijo Joseph joined the clan of Captain Mani, VP Sathyan, Kurikesh Mathew, V Sasikumar, Sylvester Ignatius and Rahul V Raj who won the trophy under their captaincy,
Over the years, the state of Kerala has turned into one of the powerhouses of the beautiful game in the country because of the efforts put in by many coaches and organizers at the grassroots. The match went into extra time as both teams failed to score in the allotted time. It then went to a penalty shootout after both Kerala and Bengal managed to score one goal each in extra time and interestingly it was Kerala’s surprise kickback 3 minutes before the end of extra time which paved the way to open penalty shootout round.
Dilip Orwan scored for Bengal in the 97th minute while Safnad scored the equalizer for Kerala in the 117th minute. When West Bengal wasted one kick during the penalty shoot-out, Kerala converted all their kicks to goals and Kerala eventually won 5-4. The triumph was a fitting tribute to B Devanand, a member of Kerala’s maiden Santosh Trophy-winning squad in 1973 who passed recently.
Kerala’s Previous wins
Kerala and West Bengal are not joining face to face for the first time. However, they have made their competition stronger over time. When Bengal won the tournament 32 times and was the runner-up on 13 occasions, Kerala on the other hand won the trophy seven times including Santosh Trophy 2022.
Kerala won the trophy in 1973,1992, 1993, 2001, 2004, 2018, and recently in 2022. Kerala had to wait till 1973 to lay its hands on the coveted Santosh Trophy. In the final held at the Maharaja’s College ground in Kochi, captain T K S Mani scored a brilliant hat-trick as Kerala shocked Railways 3-2 to win its maiden title.
After the historic victory of 1973, Kerala had a painful wait to win the silver medal which took 19 years for the football lovers in Kerala to witness a triumph of the state. In the 1992 Coimbatore nationals, they ended a 19-year title drought by thrashing Goa 3-0 in the final. When Kerala beat Maharashtra 2-0 in the final in 1993 to retain the trophy, the Kochi Maharaja’s College Stadium once again proved Kerala’s luck. It was Kurikesh Mathew’s turn to hold aloft the trophy.
However, then it took seven years to prove again Kerala’s brilliant victory, where the state could prove its hand outside Southern soil for the first time. In 2001, Ace striker Abdul Hakim struck a golden goal in the extra time to help them record a hard-fought 3-2 win over Goa after the teams were level 2-2 at the regulation time. The 59th Santosh Trophy 2004 was held in Delhi from 14 October 2004 to 31 October 2004. Kerala won their fifth title beating Punjab (3-2) in the finals.
West Bengal who played in the 46th final looked forward to making up for their loss to Kerala in the 2018 title at home in Kolkata. Bengal won the other two matches in the final between the two teams in 1989 and 1994. However, this time in 2022, things have not favored Bengal instead the home ground of Kerala stood it for them paving the way for Kerala football lovers to cherish their day on May 2, 2022.
However, the tournament was not held in 2019-20 and 2020-21 due to the Covid-19 pandemic but this time the offcials planned to conduct the Santosh Trophy 2022.