Siliguri, March 6 (IANS) Mizoram will look to extend their seven-match winning streak when they take on Tamil Nadu while a buoyant Railways face Maharashtra in the semi-finals of the 68th National Championships for Santosh Trophy here at the Kanchenjunga Stadium Friday.
Mizoram have not only won all four of their final round matches from Group A but have also shown no mercy to their regional counterparts in the zonals.
Tamil Nadu, on the other hand, have had a roller-coaster ride so far, winning two and losing two in the final round. Finishing second in Group A with six points from four matches, the two-time finalists will look to exploit the only chink in Mizoram’s armour, which has been their inexperience at this level.
“Mizoram have been playing really well. They are very fast and have some fleet-footed players in their ranks. We have to bring all our experience into play against them and capitalise on our chances,” Tamil Nadu coach C.M. Ranjith said Thursday.
“We have to counter them with our game plan. Technically they have the edge. If we can contain them in the first 20 minutes, it will be beneficial to us,” added Ranjith.
The second semi-final of the day could be a battle of attrition in the middle of the park with both Railways and Maharashtra boasting of a strong midfield.
“It will be a touch and go affair,” said Maharashtra coach Irenio Vaz.
“The battle will be won in midfield I believe, as both teams are very strong in the middle. Railways are a very good side. I have been watching them for the last three games and they play a good game. I feel we have a slight advantage in defence but all that can go haywire,” Vaz added.
The Maharashtra midfield boasts of holding midfielder Praneel Mendon, central medios Vijith Shetty and former United Sikkim player Linekar Machado, former Churchill Brothers, Pune FC, and Air India man Paresh Shivalkar and in-form Shahbaz Pathan who has scored two crucial goals for his side in the final round.
“They have a lot of experience in that midfield,” Railways coach Souren Dutta said.
“We will try to block their movement in the middle as that is the danger area. It will be a keenly fought contest and our boys are looking forward to it. We hope to continue the good form we showed against Goa,” he added.