Srinagar, Jun 14: A keen contest is on cards when defending champion Punjab will take on Services in the final of the 62nd National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy at the Bakshi stadium here tomorrow.
Seven-time winner, Punjab edged out Karnataka 4-3 in the semi-finals via the tie-breaker to enter the final of the tournament, while Services defeated last year's runners-up West Bengal 4-1. Services, one-time winner and four-time runners-up of the championship, have emerged as a surprise package in this tournament and won all their three quarter-final league matches to top ''Group-A'' with nine points. They are followed by Punjab with six points. Services stunned Punjab 2-1 in their quarter-final league match.
S Raleng gave the Services an early lead when he scored in the eight minute after beating the Punjab defenders. Lal Rutafela made it 2-0 while Harvinder Singh of Punjab was however, able to reduce the margin when he scored in the 66th minute for Punjab.
The 23-year-old, S Raleng of Services, who is the top scorer of the tournament so far with 13 goals, will pose a serious threat to Punjab defence, followed by striker Shaji D'silva, Lal Ruatafela and Norgan Lama.
Meanwhile, Services need to watch out for Punjab defenders Balraj Singh, Sakatar Singh, Baljit Sahni and Sukwinder Singh during the final match.
The tournament was organised by the Jammu and Kashmir Football Association (JKFA) under the agies of All India Football Federation (AIFF).
Jammu and Kashmir is hosting the championship for the second time after a gap of 30 years.
Jammu and Kashmir had hosted the 35th Santosh Trophy in 1978 when West Bengal lifted the trophy beating Goa 1-0.
The Santosh Trophy is the Indian National State Trophy which started in 1941. In the early seasons, matches were played in two halfs of 30 minutes each.
The trophy was donated by the Indian Football Association (IFA), the parent body of Bengal football, in the memory of late Maharaja Sir Manmatha Nath Roy Chowdhary of Santosh (now in Bangladesh).
The late Maharaja remained the president of the IFA for a long time.
The runners-up trophy, Kamla Gupta Trophy, was donated by late Dr S K Gupta, ex-president, IFA in the memory of his wife.
One more trophy, Sampangi Cup, was presented by the Mysore Football Association, now Karnataka Football Association in 1952, in the name of well-known football Sampangi.
The trophy is for the third placed team (between losing semi-finalists).