KOCHI: It is crunch time for the state’s best college teams as action reaches its peak in ‘Goal 2012’ all-Kerala inter-collegiate football tournament. After 24 adrenaline-pumping matches, 14-day event enters the knock-out stage at the Maharaja’s College Ground here on Saturday.
The semi-final line-up is ready as four teams emerged on top after the league phase of the well-received tournament being organised by The New Indian Express concluded on Friday. Seven-time Calicut University champions Sree Kerala Varma College, Thrissur, from Group ‘A’, Lakshmibai National College of Physical Education, Thiruvananthapuram, from Group ‘B’, Nirmala College, Muvattupuzha from Group ‘C’ and eight time University champions Mar Athanasious College, Kothamangalam, from Group ‘D’ have made it to the make-or-break semifinals after emerging at the top of the points table in their respective groups.
Of the four, Mahatma Gandhi University champions Nirmala College and Kerala University powerhouse LNCPE swept all before them, claiming all nine points and keeping clean slates in the group stage.
And as the battle now nears the climax, officials and players feel that college football which had almost gone under in recent times, has received a shot in the arm with the tournament.
Kerala Varma coach Narayana Menon said, “This initiative by The New Indian Express has given us hopes of better days for football in Kerala.”
Above all, special attention paid by the organisers to provide the players access to good infrastructure has motivated them to give in their hundred per cent in every game. “They were more relaxed and confident. Usually, in most tournaments, not much care is given to basic facilities, which is crucial to the quality of the team’s performance,” Menon said.
Kerala Varma team which won the Calicut University crown the other day attribute their performance level at the university championship to the exposure they got at ‘Goal 2012’.
LNCPE coach Pradeep Dutta, who is also an AFC 'A' licensed coach said, “The game has a bright future if more and more private organisers devote some time and money in conducting such tournaments. The success of sports in foreign countries is high because of the efforts of private parties.”
And as anticipation about who will go home with the lucrative Rs 1 lakh award runs high among the teams, players admit that the cash prize has definitely given them the added motivation to do better. “The cash prize provided at ‘Goal 2012’ is definitely a huge plus. We have never ever felt so thoroughly satisfied,” said Sebi Peter, University College team captain.
According to the team managers, ‘Goal 2012’ has been a great experience.