Standing at 6’2″, 17-year-old Sujith MS is like a wall at the back, using his long reach and big bucket-like hands to good effect. He managed to ward off the rampaging Brazilian outfit Santo Antonio for the entire first half and a good part of the second half in the final of the Subroto Cup with some crucial saves.
In the first half, Malabar Special Police School were on the defensive, giving little away. However, on most occasions when Brazil did manage to breach their defence, they were undone by the giant from Nilambur. At the end of regulation time, Sujith had saved at least 10 clear chances. But in the end it was the Brazilians who were celebrating, as they defeated the the Malappuram-based side 5-4 in penalties, after the game finished 2-2 in normal time.
Sujith was the tragic hero. He may have walked away with the best goalkeeper award but was left inconsolable, specially after his team came so close to pulling off an upset. He knew that despite the countless saves, it was the equaliser in the dying minutes that sealed his fate and 10 others at the Ambedkar Stadium on Monday.
Praise from opponents
In the midst of frantic celebrations, Brazilian coach Marcel walked up to a dejected Sujith, shook hands, patted his back and smiled. He didn’t utter a single word. Marcel’s smile just summed up the Brazilian contingent’s respect for this teenager from Nilambur. “Their goalie was definitely one of the best in the tournament and the team on the whole was very impressive,” Marcel said after the post-match ceremony.
“It is obviously disappointing to lose out on penalties,” a crestfallen Sujith said in Malayalam after the match. “Of course, we didn’t expect to reach this far in the tournament, considering we have hardly had exposure at the national level. All the credit must go to our coach Binoy sir,” he said.