Srinagar, Jan 7: Star player Aakif Reshi scored a hattrick as J&K ended its campaign in the 73rd Santosh Trophy National football championship with a 4-2 win over Andhra Pradesh at Kozhikode on Saturday.
Having already lost the chance of qualifying for the next round, it was a consolation win for the J&K side. Unlike previous matches, in which J&K found it hard to find the back of the net, the story of this match was different with the team dominating from the start. Till the last moments of the game, J&K were leading by 4-0, before conceding two late goals that reduced the final score to 4-2.
For J&K, senior striker AakifReshi turned out as the star of the match scoring three back-to-back second-half goals.
Earlier, J&K got off to a flying start in the match with Ateeb giving them an early lead in the 14th minute. With nothing to lose and already being out of the tournament, J&K continued to attack but was unable to find the back of the net. The first half ended with J&K leading by 1-0.
In the second half, it was AakifReshi’s show which looked in full rhythm. The senior striker doubled J&K’s lead in the 62nd minute and then made it 3-0 in the 69th minute. Only two minutes later AakifReshi completed his hatrick by scoring the fourth goal for J&K in the 71st minute. It was a completely magical performance from the Anantnag-based striker who scored three goals for his side within the gap of 11 minutes.
When it looked like J&K will go out with an easy 4-0 win, Andhra Pradesh launched a late counter. Arogayanathan scored the first goal for Andra Pradesh in the 79th minute and then in stoppage time Pradeep T scored a second goal to make it 4-2.
J&K won the match by 4-2 and finished the campaign in third place in the group. Out of five matches played, J&K were able to win two and suffered defeat in two. They were able to draw one.
In the first match of the tournament, J&K defeated Bihar by 2-0. In the second match, J&K suffered a defeat against Mizoram. In the third match J&K were held to a draw by Rajasthan and in the fourth match suffered a 3-0 defeat against Kerala.
It has been a totally disappointing performance from the side as they once again failed to qualify for the main round of the prestigious tournament. It seems outside politics in the football association took a toll on the performance of the side as the team went for the event without worthwhile preparation and planning.