Both the U-21 Boys finalists needed penalty shoot-outs to enter the gold medal match.
Kerala and Mizoram will contest the blue riband of the Khelo India Youth Games football competition, the boys Under-21 final, bringing a very similar approach and style to the match at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex here on Saturday.
Both needed penalty shoot-outs to enter the gold medal match, with Kerala getting past Punjab in a late game on Thursday after full time ended with a 1-1 score-line while Mizoram were unable to convert territorial superiority into goals against Goa and also squeezed through via spot kicks.
Watch: Mizoram Vs Goa, Semi-Finals Penalty Shootout
The final brings together two teams that prefer possession and positional play and put either flank to good use. While Kerala and Punjab were evenly matched in terms of physicality and approach with both getting a goal in open play before penalties were needed to decide the winner, the Mizoram-Goa semi-final was a study in contrasts.
Against Mizoram’s open play, Goa coach Severina Fernandes opted to park bodies behind the ball. At any given time when play was in their half, Goa had a minimum of eight men behind the ball, leaving one roving striker upfront who was shut down easily if the ball crossed the half line.
In the quarters, Mizoram put three past regional rivals Manipur and Kerala coach Masil Devanand will be wary of their capabilities inside the last 30 yards. At the same time, he needed to use substitute Jonas M.J to break the deadlock against Punjab who had held their line well and this at least promises to be a tactical fight right from the start.
Interestingly, in the absence of powerhouses West Bengal, no state has been able to put more than one team into any of the four finals.
- Khelo India Youth Games Football: Mizoram and Tamil Nadu in Girls U-21 semis, Odisha trounce Himachal Pradesh
The women’s U-21 final pits Tamil Nadu, who edged out Maharashtra 3-2 in the semis, against Manipur who got the better of Mizoram by a comfortable 3-0 scoreline.
The boys U-17 final sees the hard-running Punjab boys, who put three past hosts Maharashtra in the semis in a tough game, take on Karnataka, 8-7 (full time 1-1) winners over Kerala, while the girls final should see favourites Jharkhand home against local rivals Odisha.
In the semis, Jharkhand rode on four goals from Sharda, scoring four times in the first half and thrice in the second to rout Kerala 7-0, In contrast, Odisha needed a goal almost on the stroke of the final whistle from substitute Sarita to subdue a fighting Manipur 2-1.
Girls Under-17 gold medal match: Odisha vs Jharkhand ( 3 pm at Flame Institute); 3rd place playoff: Manipur vs Kerala (9 am at Flame Institute).
Boys Under-17 gold medal match: Karnataka vs Punjab (9 am at Balewadi); 3rd place playoff: Kerala vs Maharashtra (9 am at Mamudi).
Girls Under-21 gold medal match: Tamil Nadu vs Manipur (5 pm at Balewadi); 3rd place playoff: Maharashtra vs Mizoram (9 am at Police HQ).
Boys Under-21 gold medal match: Mizoram vs Kerala (7.30 pm at Balewadi); 3rd place playoff: Goa vs Punjab (3 pm at Mamudi).