FC Thrissur’s withdrawal from the tournament meant the six games they played were deemed void by the Kerala FA and the results were adjusted accordingly. This is the second time this has happened within Group A! SBI Kerala’s four matches were declared null and void sometime back after their withdrawal from the Kerala Premier League.
Indian Navy who only started their KPL campaign last month won their last three games and are through to the semi-final of the tournament – surprisingly qualifying first in Group A ahead of Kerala Blasters Reserves. This sets up their semi-final with FC Kerala while the KBFC Reserves play against Gokulam Kerala FC in the other semi-final.
Here’s how Indian Navy went about assimilating their their three wins in a row.
A tale of two braces
Group A, 3 May 2019, Kochi: Indian Navy 4-3 Sports Academy Tirur
Bipaka Thapa opened the scoring for the Indian Navy in the 10th minute, but that was cancelled out by SAT Tirur’s Moosa in the 16th.
Early in the second half, the Navy team look the lead again through Inayat. Having won the reverse fixture against Indian Navy a few days earlier (2-0), SAT Tirur looked confident and equalised again through Moosa (62′).
But a third and a fourth goal by Harikrishna and Bipaka Thapa (69′, 78′) proved too much for the SAT team to handle. They pulled a goal back in the 85th (Fasalu Rahman) to lessen the deficit to a goal, but that was about the extent of the comeback.
Bipaka brace helps Indian Navy do a double
Group A, 5 May 2019, Kochi: Indian Navy 3-0 RFC Kochi
A Bipaka Thapa brace in the first half (20′, 26′) set the tone for a comfortable win for the Indian Navy side. A third goal came in the second half courtesy Raman Rai in the 54th minute to seal the three points.
FC Kochi had to win the game to stay in contention for the semi-final play-off spot, but it’s Indian Navy who have qualified in their stead. The Navy team also won the reverse fixture a few days earlier to complete the double over their city rivals.
Indian Navy go top of Group A
Group A, 8 May 2019, Kochi: Indian Navy 1-0 Kerala Blasters FC Reserves
Indian Navy managed to pick up a narrow win over Kerala Blasters Reserves in their last group fixture to go top of Group A on goal difference.
They have a relatively easier task of facing FC Kerala in the semi-final. FC Kerala qualified in second place from Group B – Gokulam Kerala FC topped Group B.
The solitary goal for the Navy team came in the 43rd minute and it was the usual suspect Bipaka Thapa who got on the score sheet. Thapa has scored five goals in his last three appearances.
Here’s what the final group tables look like:
|2||Kerala Blasters [R]||6||4||0||2||10||9||1||12|
|4||Golden Threads FC||8||2||0||6||9||21||−12||6|
The semi-finals will be played on the 11th and 12th of May followed by the final on May 14th at the Calicut EMS Stadium, Kozhikode.