Meghalaya will seek a maiden title while Karnataka aims for their first triumph in 54 years when the two teams face off in the summit clash of the National Football Championships for the Santosh Trophy on March 4.
While it will be historic if the tiny northeastern state of Meghalaya wins the trophy, Karnataka has the chance to end its long wait for success and reassert itself as a football power in the country.
Playing in their first-ever semifinals, Meghalaya beat former champions Punjab, having come back from a one-goal deficit to make it to their maiden final.
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Karnataka was a force to reckon with in Indian football when they won the Santosh Trophy for the last time in the 1968-69 season. At that time, the state was called Mysore.
Karnataka finished runners-up in 1975-76 after losing to Bengal in the final. It was their last appearance in the title clash before this edition.
Team Meghalaya defeated Punjab, the former champion, 2-1 in the semifinals to earn a first-time berth in the summit clash of the Santosh Trophy national football championships on March 1 in Riyadh.
Meghalaya, in their first semifinal, rallied from a goal down to defeat their eight-time champion opponents with an impressive comeback.
Punjab had never lost a game before reaching the semifinals. In the first and second rounds, they had topped their group.
Since the Santosh Trophy is being held abroad for the first time in its history, the semifinals, third-place play-off, and final are being played here.
In the 16th minute, Paramjit Singh gave Punjab the lead, but Meghalaya equalized in the 37th minute when Figo Syndai coolly slotted home after Nikelson Bina had headed down on the goal face.
After the equalizer, Meghalaya had a lot of the game under control, but they didn't score until the final minute.
In the match that took place in the King Fahd International Stadium, which was nearly empty at the time, Sheen Stevenson Sohktung scored in injury time (90+1).
As a result, Punjab, who missed out on some players who had played in the second round in Bhubaneswar, will have to wait for the title they last won in 2007-08. With an unbeaten record in Bhubaneswar, they topped Group B.
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