By R Elahi
SRINAGAR- The Jammu & Kashmir senior men’s football team on Saturday exited the 75th Santosh Trophy National Football Championship 2021 with a 3-2 win over lowly Himachal Pradesh at Sports Complex, Chandigarh.
Playing its last Group A North Zone qualifier match, the team ended its disappointing campaign with 5 points from 4 matches. J&K lost its opening match against Services and drew twice against Uttar Pradesh and Chandigarh to end 3rd in the table (which is subject to change with UP yet to play its last match).
Many expected a J&K victory as Himachal (who sit bottom of the table with 0 points) have been on the receiving end during the Group A matches. However, J&K were given a tough fight till the very end.
Earlier, J&K’s coach Satpal Singh made changes to the way he set up his team in previous games. The coach played with a 4-3-3 formation and made changes to his line up. Nirdosh was brought in as the team’s goalkeeper, while the back 4 remained unchanged from the previous match, with Faisal (RB), Arun (CB), Goutam (CB) and Shahid (LB) retaining their spots. Mehran, Imad and Shakir formed the midfield three, while Mehjoor (LW), Sarmad (ST), and Raja Musharaf (RW) played as the front three for J&K.
The changes were reflected immediately as Raja Musharaf gave J&K the lead in just the 3rd minute. Shakir Ahmad Sheikh doubled the team’s lead in 36th minute of the match. Himachal managed to pull one goal back in the 40th minute through Hemant. J&K’s Arun Nagial scored in the 57th minute of the second half to make the score 3-1. Himachal team scored their second goal in the 80th minute through Jaswinder.
The 3-2 win marked J&K’s first victory of the Senior NFC 2021 tournament.
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