Shillong, Jan 31: Seilenthang Lotjem scored a hat-trick for Punjab to see them defeat Manipur 3-0 in Group B of the Junior National Football Championship for the Dr BC Roy Trophy at Third Ground here today.
Lotjem scored in the ninth, 34th and 49th minutes to take his tally to five in the tournament after scoring a brace in Punjab’s first match. Punjab are now at the top of the group with a maximum six points from two outings. Manipur are definitely out of the running for a semifinal spot after losing two out of two games.
In the morning Kerala came through as 2-1 victors after a good fight from Jharkhand. Muhammad Ajsal (12′) and Mohammed Aimen (64′) scored for Kerala, with Lairenjam Sushil Singh (35′) scoring for Jharkhand. Both Kerala and Jharkhand have three points each.
In Group D, West Bengal recorded a second consecutive goalless draw, this time coming against Chhattisgarh. Earlier Karnataka moved clear at the top of the group with a 5-0 whitewash of Jammu & Kashmir. Karnataka got their first thanks to an own goal by J&K (29′) before scoring further through Aditya Mohan (33′), Godwin Johnson (46′), Elangbam Tondon Meitei (54′) and Shreyas Ketkar (82′ penalty).
Tomorrow it will be all to play for in Groups A and C. In the latter Meghalaya are at the top of the group on goal difference over Haryana (+6 to +2) and both will look to beat their respective opponents by big enough margins to qualify for the semifinals.
Meghalaya will face Sports Authority of India at Third Ground at 2PM and the latter also have a chance of making it to the last-four if they beat the hosts and if Haryana fail to defeat Odisha.
In Group A toppers Uttar Pradesh will face second-placed Mizoram. Both are tied on four points and a win for either side will put them into the semis. However, if they draw and Goa defeat bottom side Delhi then UP, Mizoram and Goa will all have five points and goal difference will come into play.
Group A (9:30AM) – Mizoram vs Uttar Pradesh (Third Ground); Goa vs Delhi (JN Stadium)
Group C (2PM) – Sports Authority of India vs Meghalaya (Third Ground); Odisha vs Haryana (JN Stadium)
(Meghalaya Football Association photo. Manipur are in red/white, Punjab in yellow)