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West Bengal team top the group IV of the Hero Santosh Trophy.

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KOLHAPUR: West Bengal team defeated Maharashtra by scoring 2 goals against Maharashtra’s in the final match
of the group stage of Santosh Trophy held in Kolhapur city’s Shahu Stadium.

The matches for Group 4 concluded in Kolhapur on Sunday with the attendance of record number of 15,000 spectators
watching the match The Maharashtra team — which has five players from Kolhapur Sports Association — lost the match and is currently the second best runners-up.

As per the new rules, 36 teams have been divided into six groups. The group toppers qualify automatically, while three
of the best runners-up of the six groups will also qualify for the knockout stage. Services and the railways have direct entry into the final round, which makes 12 teams trying their best to become the champion.

The West Bengal team dominated in the first half. The first goal for the WB team came in the eighth minute. Surajit Hansda headed ball into the net to score the first one. Then, Maharashtra went on the offensive, but the opportunities could not be converted into goals. In the 39th minute, WB’s Dipak Kumar struck the ball with his left foot directly into Maharashtra’s goalpost.

In the 78th minute, the Maharashtra striker Arif Shaikh, one of the top scorers in this Santosh Trophy, converted the pass into a goal. However, West Bengal players put up a stiff defence and let Maharashtra have no other chance at the goalpost.

Meanwhile, Shaji Prabhakaran, the secretary general of the All-India Football Federation, came to watch the final match between Maharashtra and West Bengal. Speaking to the media after the match with an executive member of AIFF Malojiraje Chhatrapati by his side, Prabhakaran said, “We have set a few goals. We expect that by 2026, our under-17 boys and women’s teams will qualify for the World Cup. The preparations for this have been started. We also expect our national team to be in the top 10 by the same year and in 2047 in the top three in Asia.”