KOCHI: Defending champions Nirmala College, Muvattupuzha blanked Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam 4-0 to book their spot in the quarterfinals of the TNIE GOAL 2018 all-Kerala inter-collegiate football tournament at the Maharaja’s College Stadium on Saturday. The game wasn’t as one-sided as the scoreline suggested and it needed TNIE GOAL 2017 player of the tournament Jithin M and Abhiram Shaji to score twice late into the match to break down a resolute Maharaja’s defence.
Nirmala fielded a team featuring a number of players from their title-winning squad from last season, but it was Maharaja’s who were the impressive side in the early exchanges. In the 17th minute, Nirmala defence failed to deal with a Jibin Thomas corner that was headed inches wide by Tony Thomas.Two minutes later, another lofted ball into the area was headed towards goal by Umar Ghasim, but Nirmala’s goalkeeper was up to the task with a diving save. Nirmala had to wait until the 37th minute to create their first chance -- a testament to the discipline of their opposition.
After the break, though, the reigning champions came out of the dressing room with intent. Abhiram tested the goalkeeper with a long ranger that was tipped wide by Maharaja’s goalkeeper Salbin K G with a full-length dive. The home side’s defence did not hold for long as Jithin scored the opening goal slotting past the advancing keeper in the 62nd minute. Maharaja’s almost found a reply in the 76th minute when Umar was played on goal, but the striker lost control while trying to shift the ball to his left foot.
A goal down, Maharaja’s lost their shape and Nirmala, ruthless in front of goal, punished them. Abhiram, among top scorers last season, found his first of the seventh edition in the 80th minute before scoring a second two minutes later. Jithin then found his second of the day making it 4-0, a scoreline which did not tell the full story of the game.
Kerala Varma set up quarterfinal with Nirmala
In the second pre-quarterfinal, two-time champions Sree Kerala Varma College, Thrissur, trounced MIC Arts and Science College, Malappuram 7-0, thanks to a 10-minute hattrick from Sreyas V G, to set up a mouthwatering quarterfinal encounter with defending champions Nirmala College. Kerala Santosh Trophy player Jithin M S opened the scoring in the third minute for the winners of the first two editions of TNIE GOAL. Striker Sreyas made it 2-0 in the eighth minute before scoring in the 14th and 17th to complete his treble.
The Thrissur college will go 6-0 up by halftime as Christy Davis and Adheeb Basheer V P added to the scoreline. Jonas M J will complete the scoring of the evening in the second half as Kerala Varma started their campaign with a statement victory as they look to win the title they last won in 2013.
St Thomas rules over NSS
In the final pre-quarterfinal matches held on Friday, St Thomas College, Thrissur had thrashed NSS College, Manjeri 5-1 while University College, Thiruvananthapuram needed penalty shootouts to register a 3-2 win over Zamorin’s Guruvayurappan College, Kozhikode.
Nirmala College, Muvattupuzha 4-0 Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam
Goals: Jithin M (62’, 89’), Abhiram Shaji (80’, 82’)
Sree Kerala Varma College, Thrissur 7-0 MIC Arts and Science College, Malappuram
Goals: Jithin M S (3’), Sreyas V G (8’, 14’, 17’), Christy Davis (16’), Adheeb Basheer V P (27’), Jonas M J (87’)
January 26 results
St Thomas College, Thrissur 5-1
NSS College, Manjeri
Goals: Melwin Thomas (8’), Benwin P B (20’), Sajith K S (58’), Amal Jacob (60’), Sreekuttan V S (71’) - Basil (48’)
University College, T’Puram 0-0 Zamorin’s Guruvayurappan College, Kozhikode
(3-2 in penalties)