The excitement of 'Goal 2013' moves to the next level with the knock-out stage beginning at the Sacred Heart College Ground at Thevara on Wednesday.
Twelve match-days and 24 matches after Union Minister for Urban Poverty Alleviation and Housing Ajay Maken kicked off the all-Kerala inter-collegiate football tournament organised by The New Indian Express on January 16, the group fixtures concluded on Tuesday.
Of the 16 college teams originally in the fray, the best eight - comprising the winners and runners-up of the four preliminary groups - have booked their places in the quarterfinals. With increasing numbers of spectators turning up at the picturesque venue along the Vembanad Lake to encourage some of the most promising footballers in the state, the knock-out matches promise a tremendous improvement in both the quality of football on display and the excitement on the sidelines.
The top two teams from Goal 2012, champions Sree Kerala Varma College, Thrissur and runners-up Mar Athanasius College, Kothamangalam, lead the teams that will seek a place in the semifinals over the next two days. University College, Thiruvananthapuram, NSS College, Manjery, Nirmala College, Muvattupuzha, MES College, Mambad, Payannur College, Kannur, and Farook College, Kozhokode are the other teams left in the battle to decide the champion college football team in the state. A total of 69 goals have been scored so far, with youngsters showing enough skill and endeavour to suggest that, with good training and exposure, they could turn into real stars of the future.