Malappuram were crowned the Kerala State Sub-junior Champions 2011 at the expense of defending champions Kozhikode as the neighbours played out a penalty shootout which ended in favour of Malappuram, at the 122 Infantry Battalion Ground, Kannur on Sunday. The match that finished 1-1 at the end of 60 minutes was won by Malappuram 4-2 in the shoot outs.
Malappuram, who knocked out Ernakulam in the semi final, went ahead in the fourth minute, with a header from Sajith Khan taking his fine goal scoring form into the finals too. After going a goal don, Kozhikode began attacking the Malappuram goal and they created several chances through out the first half, taking the spectators to their confidence. Even though, it seemed Kozhikode would strike back any moment, the Malappuram defence stood firm to deny the equaliser.
Luck seemed to have ran out for Kozhikode as they went on to create more chances in the second half without any result. But in the dying moments of the second half, Kozhikode were awarded a free kick in the 57th minute. Free kick taken by Leo Augustine escaped the defensive wall and also the diving keeper of Malappuram to register a 1-1 scoreline at the end of two halves of play.
The penalty shoot outs show a brilliant display by Malappuram’s custodian Sujith who let in only one shot from the Kozhikode players, meanwhile Malappuram had all their spot kicks converted by Sajith Khan, Abhijith and Vishnu. Thus, Malappuram are the new under-14 champions of Kerala, thanks to a magnificent display in the final by their keeper Sujith who denied Kozhikode plenty of times through out the match.
In the Losers’ Final, Ernakulam defeated Thrissur 2-1 to finish third in the tournament. Jinto and Mohammed Fazil scored for the winners while Naveen reduced the deficit for Thrissur.
Malappuram’s Manipur-born Sajith Khan was awarded the ‘Top Scorer of the Tournament’ for scoring eleven goals in the tournament including a double hattrick against Alappuzha, hattrick against Thiruvananthapuram and a goal in the final. Sajith’s parents moved to Kerala a decade ago and settled at Araecode, Malappuram where their son now plays and studies at the MSP Higher Secondary School. Kozhikode’s midfielder Lazim Ali was named the ‘Best Player of the Tournament’.
The Kerala under-14 team for the National Under-14 Football Championship will be selected based on the performance of players in the tournament.
Photo Courtesy: Malayala Manorama and Mathrubhumi Dailies