The hosts will face Meghalaya in the opening match of the tournament…

It looks like relation between the Goa Football Association (GFA) and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) are back on good terms as they have given the green signal for Goa to host the Santosh Trophy.

“The stadiums are available to host the championship now and we have conveyed to the AIFF and they have agreed to give us hosting rights of the championship,” GFA President Elvis Gomes told Khel Now in a happy tone after the final meeting between the officials

Goa will be hosting the tournament after 21 years. The last time the tournament was held in the state was in 1996 when Goa were edged out 1-0 in the Final by their arch-rivals West Bengal.

The final round of this edition will start from 12th March 2017 at GMC Stadium, Bambolim and Tilak Maidan, Vasco. The Final will be played under floodlights at GMC Stadium on the 26th of the same month. 10 teams have qualified for the round from five different zones, and are divided into two groups.

Group A consists of hosts Goa, Chandigarh, Meghalaya, West Bengal and defending champions Services, while Group B comprises of Punjab, Mizoram, Kerala, Maharashtra and Railways.

There will be two matches played on the opening day of the championship. First starting at 3.00pm and followed by Goa-Meghalaya match at 7.00pm under floodlights. Other league matches will be played simultaneously at both the venues at 4.00pm daily.    

It looks like only semi-finals and the Final will be telecast on Doordarshan but the local association is planning to broadcast the other games on a local channel.

“As per the information given to me, talks are going on with Doordarshan for the telecast of semi-finals and the Final but we are also trying to telecast it on a Goan local channel. Talks are going on” GFA General Secretary Welvin Menezes said.

Goa has previously hosted the championship three times but came out winners once in 1989-90. In last year’s edition of the tournament, Goa lost in the semi-finals against Services who later defeated Maharashtra to be champions for the fifth time.

Goa’s preparation of the final phase has been dented due to the unavailability of few key players like Fulganco Cardozo, Ponif Vaz, Richard Costa, Melvin Lobo and Assumption Soares, but according to Head Coach Mateus Costa places of these players will be filled with other players soon.

“Playing as a host state puts some extra pressure on the players because they will be playing in front of their home supporters. So they will need to give a good performance in every match. Also, unavailability of some players will be a disadvantage for the team but we will find the replacement soon.” The head coach Costa said.