Gujarat qualified for the final round of the Santosh Trophy 2020-21 after stunning 5-time champions Goa 1-0 at the Maharaja Krishnakumarsinhji Bhavnagar University ground, Bhagvanagar, Goa.
They stumbled in their first match of the campaign and were held in a goalless draw by Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Gujarat made a good comeback in the second match. After conceding within 5 minutes Gujarat struck late twice. Prabaladeep Khare and Jay Kanani scored for the hosts, giving them their first win. Meanwhile, Goa was cruising with 2 wins out of 2 matches.
Gujarat faced Goa in the final match of the group stage. The stakes were high for both the teams as only the group champions qualifies for the next stage. The Goan team could afford a draw but for Gujarat, it was a must-win match. For the first time since the 2000-01 campaign, Gujarat was on the verge of qualification. Back then, they finished tied with Tamil Nadu, and unfortunately the latter qualified through a coin toss.
Finally on Monday, It was Prabaldeep Khare's 32nd-minute strike that gave the hosts, Gujarat the all-important 3 points and took them to the next round of the Santosh Trophy 2020-21 campaign.
Santosh Trophy is India's premier state-level competition. Starting way back in 1941, this is the 75th edition of the coveted tournament.
The tournament begins with Zonal qualifiers. Gujarat was drawn in the Group A of West Zone with Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and heavyweights Goa.