64th Santosh Trophy: A Prologue

~ Kunwar Deep Singh


This is probably the testament to the impact of viewer friendly presentation of other well-established leagues in the world , that this is the first article on Santosh Trophy’10  here at TheHardTackle.  Many fellow Indian football fanatics, who follow the beautiful game in this part of the world, might be aware of the fact that Santosh Trophy is actually one of the oldest football tournaments in the world. The prestigious tournament had its first edition in 1941, which gradually started to lose its sheen as the premier and biggest Football tournament in the country ever since the inception of our very own National Football League in the year 1996. Santosh Trophy was named after the late Maharaja of Santosh (presently in Bangladesh) Sir Manmatha Nath Roy Chowdhary, for his priceless contribution towards the growth of football in this country, who had also been the President of the Indian Football Association.

SaltLake Stadium Kolkata : Venue for the 64th edition


Instead of the various professional football clubs scattered all over the Indian perimeter, Indian states compete for the much coveted and prestigious Santosh Trophy. This year’s edition finds itself back at the same place where it all started, the football capital of India, Kolkata. The competition has seen a few changes in the format through the years. According to the format of the Trophy prevalent in the present edition, eight teams are selected through a qualifying round to join the four seeded teams in the quarterfinal league stage. These twelve teams are then divided into four groups, each having three teams. The subsequent group winners complete the semifinal line-up. The state of Bengal has achieved astounding success in the history of Santosh Trophy, annexing the title a whopping 29 times, with states like Punjab and Goa dominating the recent editions.


For quite some time, the Santosh Trophy has been a suspect affair – squeezed and adjusted at the end of the Indian football calendar, often at the expense of an essential recovery period for professional players after a hectic I-League schedule. This often leads to many big players giving the tournament a miss. However this time around, AIFF actually planned things well, with the players enjoying  a much-needed break after I-League 2009-10 ended in May. But, the tournament will still miss the national team star players, who are training in Portugal for the Asian Cup to be held early next year in Qatar, where Team India is grouped in the virtual Group of Death. This edition of Santosh Trophy would serve as an excellent platform for the young starlets to showcase their potential and grab a berth in the illustrious I-League clubs – newly promoted teams like HAL, ONGC will keep an close eye to spot exciting talents.


Team India: Who will be the next to make it into the national team?


Defending champions Goa, 29-time winners and last year’s runners-up Bengal will be the hardest hit by the exodus of the national team players. While the overall trophy count suggests Bengal, Goa, Punjab and Kerala remain perennial favorites, teams like Karnataka , Services , Maharashtra and states from the Northeast also have the potential to spring a surprise. Chandigarh, stunning everyone by winning the National Junior championship last month defeating formidable Bengal on penalty shoot-out, can also topple some big guns in Kolkata .


It’s going to be a Santosh Trophy without our charismatic captain Bhaichung Bhutia and his peers, but it has always been a stage for new stars to shine. As always, many would rise up to the occasion, but all they need is the whole-hearted support and recognition from football lovers all around the country.

62 Responses to “64th Santosh Trophy: A Prologue”

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  1. redNblack_blood says:

    i don’t understand y is Santosh trophy still being played???? i mean players getting together just 10 days before the tournament to form a team makes no sense to me. Just because its an old tournament doesn’t give AIFF the right to keep it going. Making some administrative changes for god sakes scrape this tournament off……

  2. Dinar says:

    @Topic: again it’ll be between Goa & West Bengal 😀 BTW will any channel cover this event at quarters stage?? :O Even local Bengal channel will do watch this matches :)

    @redNblack: exactly!! & if we listen to Bhaichung’s advice when he says,”Whole system needs to be changed for sport to grow as well as to improve its stds.” then its quite true as well :(

  3. kunwar ! says:

    @redNblack_blood: +1 on that. there should be some drastic (Admin)changes in the way this prestigious tournament is presented to the Indian audience. (esp. the dates for it) , but that doesnt mean , we should be completely scrap it off ! Not every country has a Santosh Trophy equivalent (rich in history) tournament. So scrapping it off , doesnt make sense. Improving it, publicising it does.

  4. Subhasish says:

    I agree with Kunwar. All indian football needs is positive publicity. Some drastic changes in the administrative policies to attract corporate sponshorship. Santosh Trophy is a grooming ground for budding players and it should not be scrapped as this does not hamper our star players. Instead, to give star players adequete rest, we can do away with tournaments like IFA Shield, Rovers Cup where top I-League players/clubs participate.

  5. Somnath Sengupta says:

    Tournaments like Santosh Trophy should be primarily used for playing youth players. What Indian football needs right now is a long drawn National League, the move by AIFF to include 16 teams in i-League is a good start. Use tournaments like Kolkata League, Goa League, IFA Shield or Santosh Trophy to give the younger players match time. Use the first team for i-League.

    If EB-MB begins to field youth teams in Kolkata league that will help the league in two ways. Firstly it will give the “also rans” a glimmer of hope. Otherwise Kolkata League will never be won by an “other” team. Secondly it would give youngsters match time.

    Scrapping age-old tournaments is not an answer, when we dont have a 38 match league which will keep teams busy for the whole season.

  6. redNblack_blood says:

    @ well u al r sayin dat santosh tropy is beneficial for youth players development and n all but tell me one thing don’t the players get together 10-15 days prior to the tournamanet and form a team. what co-ordination can u expect out of such a team and without decent co-ordination and team effort how will the players show case their talent… it can only result in some individual brilliance that too rarely. this concept to team getting formed within such a short time baffles me….
    Although inclusion on teams in the I league is a very good move, i am personally interested in the AIFF u-19 team.
    As far as Kolkata league is concerned i have no idea about that so can’t comment on that but Samtosh trophy is being played just for the heck of it.. atleast in my opinion

  7. Somnath Sengupta says:

    I said it “should be” used for youth players. I didnt say right now it is being used in the same way :)

    If you only play youth players in ST then the problem of teams gelling wont happen. In every state very few of the clubs have a well defined youth structure. So the youth players playing in say Bengal, with most likely come from a select few clubs. They will already be playing together in club level, hence they wont face a big issue when gelling together.

  8. redNblack_blood says:

    my bad. i didn’t read ur comment correctly but aren’t we expecting a lot out of the AIFF if we are expecting them to change their mindset over something like this….. 😛

  9. kunwar ! says:

    why not ???..AIFF are an Oraganisation , and they are doing a good job, I would not say they are doing the best they could do..but keeping in mind the corruption levels in AIFF..they are doing good. We can see India growing as a footballing nation, where you and I are discussing Santosh Trophy !!, which is getting due respect and recognition. FINALLY. We just need to be a little bit patient. They will have to change.