Saudi Arabia to host final stages of historic Indian Santosh football tournament

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Saudi Arabia will host the 2022-23 semifinals and final of the historic Indian Hero Santosh Trophy in Riyadh on March 1 and 4.

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The Kingdom is due to become the first overseas country to host the knockout stages of the competition since its inception in 1941.

Four matches will be held in the capital’s 68,000 seater King Fahd International Stadium that has hosted international tournaments including the Spanish Super Cup between Real Madrid, Barcelona, Real Betis and Valencia, and the Italian Super Cup contested by AC Milan and Inter Milan.

A total of 36 states and Indian union territories competed in six different groups before moving to the final round pitting 12 teams against each other.

Punjab, Services, Karnataka, and Meghalaya will be competing in the final and semifinal in Riyadh.

The Santosh Trophy was once considered the pinnacle of Indian football and gathered players from across the country to compete.

Champions of the first edition Bengal have dominated the competition and hold the record of the most wins (32), with Punjab (8) and Kerala (7) following in second and third positions.

Saudi Arabian Football Federation General Secretary Ibrahim Alkassim said in a statement: “We are delighted to welcome all four teams to the Kingdom as they compete on Saudi soil for the first overseas Santosh Trophy in history.”

“We are aware of the value of this competition, how much it means to Indians across the world and the great memories and traditions it holds. We wish all teams the very best of luck and a great stay in Saudi Arabia.”

All India Football Federation Secretary General Dr Shaji Prabhakara added: “On behalf of the AIFF, I express my sincere gratitude to SAFF, for hosting the prestigious Hero Santosh Trophy in Riyadh.”

“It is an ample testimony of the deep-rooted relationship between the two federations, which has grown into a symbiotic association to take the beautiful game ahead.”

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