West Bengal lost to Kerala in a cracker of a final in the 72nd Santosh Trophy via a penalty shootout after 120 minutes of exciting football! After the scores were tied at 2-2 following the extra time, tie-breakers came to the rescue. West Bengal missed the first two penalties and Kerala took the advantage to win the shoot-outs 4-2.
Star player Tirthankar Sarkar scored an outstanding goal in the dying minutes of the extra time to take the game into a tie-breaker. In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, he said that the team did not play to its potential in the final.
“Neither of us played well today as per my point of view. But we never gave up, the match was not of 90 minutes, it continued till the 120th. We knew that even after trailing, that the match was not over. A goal can also be scored in the last second (just as he did),” said the midfielder.
Astonishingly, Jiten Murmu played the role of a goalkeeper in the last penalty shoot of the game. Kerala needed to convert the penalty to win the title, and they did so. Speaking on the surprising turn of events, Tirthankar said, “We tried our luck, it was a bit of a superstition. Previously, it happened a few times that Tirthankar went under the sticks and goals were not converted, so we tried our luck.”
On asking what went wrong in the shoot-outs, he agreed to the coach’s verdict that they missing their three main penalty-kick takers which proved vital at the end of the day. “We missed our first choice kick takers during the time when we needed the most, it cost us dearly,” said the West Bengal player. Bidyadagar Singh was injured during the game; Sumit Das was substituted during the half-time while Rajon Barman was shown the red in the extra time.
Surely, the hangover will stay with the players for a few days, but the goalscorer is all set to brush aside the failure and move in his career. His next target is to perform well in the on-going 2nd division I-League for Mohammedan Sporting Club and guide them to I-League qualification. Regarding the matter, he said, “From tomorrow, my focus will be on the 2nd division I-League and to give my best over there.”
Although age is not on his side, yet his performance in the Santosh Trophy may open up lucrative offers from various clubs. But the player from Belgharia, Kolkata is not wasting his time on thinking about such possibilities and is just focused on giving his best. “I am not worried about such things at the present moment, my job was to perform well and I tried to do so. If offers come, then only will I be able to comment on such matters,” said the former Mohun Bagan player.
Tirthankar Sarker is a product of Mohun Bagan’s SAIL football academy in Durgapur and started his senior career with Pailan Arrows, and then moved on to Churchill Brothers. In 2014, he joined Mohun Bagan and stayed there till 2016. After a short spell with Southern Samity, he signed for heavyweights Mohammedan Sporting in 2017 and is still trying hard to take his team to the top flight of Indian football.Published 02 Apr 2018, 01:03 IST