A total of 12 teams have been divided into two groups in the final round of the Santosh Trophy to be held in February-March next year, with the top four sides from each pool progressing into the quarterfinals.
For the first time since its inception in 1941, the Santosh Trophy will be held in Arunachal Pradesh and, as per the new format, the tournament will see an expanded knockout stage, “with the top-four teams from each group progressing to the quarterfinals,” said All India Football Federation (AIFF) in a statement on Thursday.
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The participating teams include six group-stage winners — Goa, Delhi, Manipur, Assam, Services and Maharashtra –, three best second-placed teams — Kerala, Mizoram and Railways –, and three automatic qualifiers — hosts Arunachal Pradesh, last season’s champions Karnataka and finalists Meghalaya.
The dates for the tournament have tentatively been fixed from February 21 to March 9.
AIFF acting secretary-general M Satyanarayan M. said after the draw that it’s going to be a special edition as the tournament will be held in Arunachal Pradesh for the first time.
Final Round Draw:
Group A: Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Goa, Assam, Services, Kerala.
Group B: Karnataka, Maharashtra, Delhi, Manipur, Mizoram, Railways.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)