Karnataka, Kerala start favourites

Last Updated 16 January 2018, 14:44 IST

While it may have lost it's sheen in the last few years, the Santosh Trophy is still  a matter of pride for State teams that participate in the age-old tournament.

After a hiatus of 49 years, Karnataka is all set to host a Santosh Trophy event -- the South Zone qualifiers for the 72nd edition of the national tournament -- from Wednesday at the Bangalore Football Stadium.

The inaugural game will see the hosts pit themselves against Telangana and the Vignesh G-led side will go into the fixture as firm favourites.

The local boys were subjected to a one-month long training camp during which they worked upon an array of  tactical and physical aspects.

"We have worked on all aspects of our game. It was about fitness and physical training to begin with but we have also concentrated on our tactical and technical abilities in this one month. Most of these guys haven't really gone to any academies and have basically learnt on the job," revealed coach Harish VK.

"Also, it's a good feeling as well as an added pressure to perform in the front of the home fans," he added reflecting on the what it is like to have the advantage of  being hosts.

Karnataka will line-up in  Pool A with the likes of Services, Telangana and Puducherry,  with Kerala, Andhra and Tamil Nadu in the corresponding group after Andaman and Nicobar pulled out.

Kerala will start as favourites in their pool and coach  Satheevan Balan divulged that the had opted to come into the qualifiers with fresh-look squad.

"We started training one month ago. We have concentrated on selecting young players this time. We have 12 new-comers in the squad. It is a promising team. We also have experienced players like Rahul Raj (captain), V Midhun and S Seesan (vice-captain). They are our key players.

"The Santosh Trophy is still important. It has a big history and it is the only tournament where you can play for your state. If you play here, the certificate is valuable in getting jobs. So it is beneficial for youngsters," said Balan indicating that the tournament was still held in high regard.

The second game on Wednesday will see a strong Services side up against Puducherry.

While Pool A is scheduled to have two matches a day (1.15 pm and 4 pm), Pool B will  feature just one game a day, which will start at 4 pm. Top teams from both pools will qualify for the tournament proper.

Fans can avail tickets at Rs 100 and Rs 50 at certain stands and the remainder will have free entry.

(Published 16 January 2018, 13:56 IST)

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