New Delhi, Nov 30 (IANS): Former champions Goa, Services and Kerala were placed in the same group in the draw for the Final Round of the 77th National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy 2023-24, which was conducted at the Football House here on Thursday.
These three along with last year's finalists Meghalaya, hosts Arunachal Pradesh and Assam are placed in Group A while Group B includes defending champion Karnataka, Maharashtra, Delhi, Manipur, Mizoram and Railways for the event that has tentatively been fixed from February 21 to March 9, 2024.
The 12 teams that had qualified for the final round were divided into two groups of six each. The participants 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.
For the first time since its inception in 1941, the Santosh Trophy will be held in Arunachal Pradesh. The new format for the tournament will see an expanded knockout stage, with the top four teams from each group progressing to the quarterfinals.
The AIFF Acting Secretary General Satyanarayan M. said, "It's going to be a very special edition of the Santosh Trophy as we take the tournament to Arunachal Pradesh for the first time. I thank our President Mr Kalyan Chaubey, Treasurer Mr Kipa Ajay and Hon'ble Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Shri Pema Khandu for hosting the Santosh Trophy Final Round."
77th National Football Championship for Santosh Trophy 2023-24 Final Round Draw Result:
GROUP A: Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya. Goa, Assam, Services, Kerala
GROUP B: Karnataka, Maharashtra, Delhi. Manipur, Mizoram. Railways.