The penultimate game of the 72nd Santosh trophy is upon us, where two tournament heavyweights West Bengal and Kerala face of against each other at the mecca of Indian football the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.
The 72nd edition of the Santosh Trophy has seen a lot of twists and turns, from a change in format. Teams like Maharastra got the better of Manipur, something which most of the India football community didn’t believe was possible.
It also saw the rise of Kerala to the forefront of Indian football once again, but the best news should be Karnataka’s resurgence as a force to be reckoned with, as they made a semi-final appearance after ages.
This edition also highlighted the diminishing interest in the tournament from the North Eastern states apart from Mizoram.
On that not let's take a look at the 5 best players in this edition of the Santosh Trophy.
#5 Tirthankar Sarkar (Bengal)
The former Mohun Bagan academy graduate, and a former member of the Indian Arrows side under Desmond Blupin, Tirthankar has always been a player with a big potential. Having played for the Mariners, he is someone who isn’t new to the intricacies Kolkata football and its expectations.
His biggest strength is his set pieces, and some also call him one of the best ball playing Bengali players today. It has been his service from the midfield that has helped the likes of Jiten Murmu and Baidyasagar Singh to score freely upfront.
#4 Leon Augustine (Karnataka)
The Bengaluru FC winger, who came up through the ranks, and has already made his senior debut in the AFC CUP against Dhaka Abahani. The winger is known for his sudden burst of pace and ability to get past defenders.
He also has an eye for goal, and scored a brilliant goal against Odisha in the group stages. He finished the tournament with 2 goals to his name. His high work rate and ability to track back help out his defenders has also been praised by many.
#3 Victorino Fernandes (Goa)
The highest goal scorer in the ongoing Santosh Trophy with 5 goals to his name, Victorino is someone who is known to most Indian football fans. Having already played in the cash-rich ISL for FC Goa.
Victorino is a player who from his Sporting Clube de Goa days, has been known as someone who is a perfect striker. He can hold up the ball, drift to the wings and can finish off some of the most uncanny of chances with an amount of grace.
Under Armando Colacco Victorino was handed a lifeline to resurrect his footballing career, and he took the opportunity with both arms (or feet). With the I-League and ISL scouts lurking in the galleries, one can be sure to see Victorino play in either of the leagues in the upcoming seasons again.
#2 Afdal VK (Kerala)
Hailing from the football-mad district of Mallapuram in Kerala, Afdal has grabbed the limelight this season in the Santosh Trophy. One of the winners of Manchester football school competition in India, Afdal has come into focus after being dormant for a few years.
Afdal is known for his physical presence and power up front, and has the ability to tear apart any defence in the tournament. He has already scored 3 goals in the tournament and has also created more than a few chances for his teammates.
It was his goal in the semi-final against Mizoram that helped Kerala get into the final. He will be looking to make a big impact in the finals and help Kerala win its 6th Santosh Trophy title.
#1 Bidyasagar Singh (Bengal)
It is often said that heroes are found in the unlikeliest of corners and for Bengal and Bidyasagar Singh, it couldn’t be any truer. Not called up for his home team Manipur, Bidyasagar was inducted into the Bengal squad by Coach Ranjan Choudhury, who also happens to be his coach at East Bengal.
The East Bengal academy graduate has repaid his coach’s trust by scoring four goals in the tournament already. At the start of the tournament, pundits were billing the usual suspects of Bengal, which include the likes of Tirthankar, Ankit, and Jiten to get the goals and wins, whereas they have produced good performances, it was Bidyasagar who grabbed everyone’s eyeballs.
Known for his speed, guile, agility and sublime finishing ability, Bidyasagar is someone who can play in the flanks, as a target man or as a lone striker too. His performance in the Santosh Trophy has already earned him a promotion to the East Bengal senior team for the Super Cup.
Bidyasagar will be looking to score a few goals in the finals and finish the tournament as the top scorer.