8:45 PM: Hello everyone and welcome to Khel Now’s LIVE COVERAGE of the Services vs Karnataka match in the Santosh Trophy 2022-23. The kick-off is just half an hour away! I’m your host Sathvik Bharadwaj, and I’ll be keeping you company through what promises a fascinating evening of football. Please wait for 30 Seconds for the Live blog to load.

Services vs Karnataka: Build-up

The prestigious trophy named after Maharaja Santosh, that has been coveted by Indian Football’s finest for decades, and has traversed the length and breadth of the country, now finds itself in the unlikeliest of locations – Riyadh Saudi Arabia.

As the sun sets on the eve of the Santosh Trophy, the four sides – Punjab, Meghalaya, Services and Karnataka – prepare for the last hurrah with the Arabian desert in the background. Services take on Karnataka in the second semi-final at 9 pm IST at the King Fahd International Stadium.

Services, who last won the Santosh Trophy in 2018-19, have been in camp since January, believe that their fighting spirit will take them through to the seventh title.

“We are trained soldiers, who know the importance of the fighting spirit. Our boys never give up, and I feel that is what will lead us to victory,” said Services head coach MG Ramachandran.

“We are lucky to not have any injuries, and the fact that our boys are all trained for the do or die situations will take us a long way,” he said. “We want to bring the trophy back to India.”

For Karnataka, it has been almost 53 years since they lifted the Hero Santosh Trophy. Perhaps the fact that reflects the amount of water that has flown under countless bridges since then is that the team was named Mysore back then.

Head coach Ravi Babu Raju said, “Karnataka has not won the Santosh Trophy in such a long time, but we feel that this is our year. We can win this,” he said. “Having said that, we have full respect for Services. They are a very good team, and we do not underestimate them. But our team also has a lot of quality, and I am sure we will be able to do well.”

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