We already have 12 days of football action behind us, and tomorrow Services take on Kerala in the first semifinal in Cuttack. In the former capital of Odisha, the Dahi Sharbats for a moment lead you to believe, not all is bad about summers though the heat could be a factor in the game. You look further, and you find football – the two teams gearing up for a slot in the final of the historic tournament.
Both Services and Kerala have come with a mission. For most of the talented Services footballers, who don’t splurge out to play club football in the I-League, the Santosh Trophy remains as a platform to make a mark. One has to admit that they have been consistent over the years.
“We will play attacking football. That has been our style and we will stick to it,” commented Services coach V. Sajith Kumar. “We will stick to the same combination which played in our last match,” Sajith added.
The vastness of the country and commitment to one’s service often pits an individual planning the downfall of his own home state. Sajith, himself a Keralite, laughs it off. In fact, it isn’t him alone. Services also boast of four footballers from Kerala in their first XI.
Kerala Coach M.N. Jacob stays a bit cautious. “We are confident but not over confident. In such a match, there’s no room for complacency,” Jacob maintained. “The flanks stay an important proposition in our plans,” he added.
“It’s hard to play consecutive matches but the positive it’s helped us to sort out the perfect combination. We’ve no complaints.”
History shows that Services enjoy an edge against Kerala. However, services are not banking on history and Kerala stay desperate to turn tables around. The historic Barabati Stadium awaits the kick-off at 18.30 IST.