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Stars of Santosh Trophy 2021-22: Where are they now? Sport-rated

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The Santosh Trophy, India’s largest national amateur football competition, has a rich history. Even now, the tournament draws a lot of attention, even if the stars of the tournament don’t usually make it to the professional level.

The likes of Inder Singh and PK Banerjee propelled themselves into the big leagues via the Santosh Trophy. However, in recent years, Santosh Trophy appearances have been the pinnacle of some football careers.

Something similar could have happened with the crop of players who excelled in the 2021-22 edition of the Santosh Trophy. Many of them attracted offers from Indian Super League and I-league clubs.

However, in doing so, the promise these players possessed became a thing of the past. These are some of the players who briefly escaped from the darkness and then returned to it.

Jesin TK (Kerala)

The 23-year-old striker from Kerala made it very difficult for people to ignore his goalscoring prowess in the last edition after he finished the tournament as the top scorer, having scored nine times, which includes the fastest hat-trick in the history of the competence.

After helping his state win their seventh title, Jesin was picked up by East Bengal ahead of the 2022-23 ISL season. Unfortunately, Stephen Constantine did not find the Kerala lad worthy of a place in the ISL squad and thus the player was left languishing in the reserves squad.

He scored a few goals in pre-season friendlies and Calcutta Football League matches, but surely this is not the professional path the striker had envisioned after his glorious Santosh Trophy campaign.

Interestingly, the club did not even allow the striker to leave for the 2022-23 Santosh Trophy campaign, which surely affected Kerala’s attacking options by failing to reach the semi-finals.

Jijo Joseph (Kerala)

After leading his team to the title last year, he announced his withdrawal from the tournament. Almost a year later, on January 30, 2023, the I-League team Gokulam Kerala announced the arrival of him. Since joining the Malabarians, Joseph also scored his first I-League goal, which he netted against Aizawl FC.

There were reports suggesting that Jijo would join East Bengal along with his Jesin teammate, but that move never materialized. According to an interview with Fanport, the former Kerala captain wished to play in the ISL.

Judging by this year’s I-League table, Jijo will be able to try to fulfill his dream only next year by helping Gokulam Kerala to promotion to the country’s top division.

Arjun Jayaraj (Kerala)

While it was Jesin who scored five in Kerala’s 7-3 win in the last semi-final against Karnataka, Arjun was one of the other players found on the scoresheet. There was a time when Jayaraj and the likes of Sahal Abdul Samad rubbed shoulders in the Kerala Blasters camp, but that didn’t last long.

Currently, he also plays alongside Joseph in the midfield for Gokulam Kerala and has already provided assists in seven appearances.

Priyant Singh (West Bengal)

Despite losing the final against Kerala last year, Bengali goalkeeper Priyant Singh was voted the best goalkeeper of the tournament. During last season, he was signed by I-League side Mohammedan SC, but then moved to BSS Sporting Club, a local club in Kolkata, for a brief spell.

In January this year, Singh found himself back in the I-League, wearing the colors of Sudeva Delhi, but his situation took a turn for the worse. He leaked 21 goals in nine appearances and was relegated to the I-League 2nd Division along with his club.

Mohamad Fardin Ali Molla (West Bengal)

After scoring six goals in the Santosh Trophy, it didn’t take long for ATK Mohun Bagan to promote Fardin through their ranks. At just 20 years old, it was a given that the Kolkata lad was not going to start every game with Juan Ferrando.

The teenager claimed a few minutes in the 2022 Durand Cup and made the most of them. In two appearances, the player scored two goals, showing great skill and poise for his age.

Also in the Indian Super League, he has amassed a total of 108 minutes in 10 matches. While there is a long way to go for the youngster, Fardin’s situation is perhaps better than his other Santosh Trophy colleagues.

Mahitosh Roy (West Bengal)

Mahitosh, another member of the Bengal team, is currently enjoying himself in the East Bengal reserve team along with Jesin TK. Since he joined Red and Gold last season, Roy has appeared once for the team when he played in the Durand Cup.

Sudheer Kotikela (Karnataka)

After finishing just behind Jesin TK on the goalscoring charts with eight goals in the 2021-22 Santosh Trophy, Sudheer was picked up by ISL side Bengaluru FC. He was also involved in the team’s participation in the BDFA Super Division League.

He is also a part of the Bengaluru United FC team which is currently flying high in the 2023 Stafford Cup.

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