Santosh Trophy
Services, Goa determined to take Santosh Trophy home
08 Mar 2024

Soumo Ghosh
AIFF Media Team

ITANAGAR: It all boils down to this! The 77th National Football Championship for Santosh Trophy will be decided between Services and Goa at the Golden Jubilee Stadium in Itanagar, on Saturday, March 9, 2024.

The Santosh Trophy final is slated for a 7 pm IST kickoff, with the match being streamed live on the Arunachal Pradesh Football Association YouTube Channel, and FIFA Plus.

APFA Honorary Secretary and AIFF Treasurer Mr. Kipa Ajay commended the two teams on the eve of the final and said, “I congratulate both Services and Goa on the excellent performances they have put out during the Santosh Trophy, and wish them the very best for the Final. It has been an honour to host the tournament, and I am happy to say that everything has gone smoothly. It is our hope that we will have a very good final tomorrow.”

AIFF Acting Secretary General Mr. M. Satyanarayan said, “It’s a pleasure to be in this part of the country, where the sport is so popular. The support from the stands has been incredible. It truly shows how knowledgeable the fans here are. From the AIFF, we are very happy to have given the 77th National Football Championship for Santosh Trophy to Arunachal Pradesh. Tomorrow, we will have representatives from 36 states join us at the stadium, and the day after the final, we will have the Executive Committee meeting, followed by the AGM.

“Both Services and Goa are former champions and have had amazing performances in the semi-finals. The production and telecast of the matches have been amazing, and we wish for both the teams the very best for tomorrow. I would also like to congratulate the organising committee on a job well done,” he said.

Services and Goa are no strangers to the final of a competition like the Santosh Trophy. The former will make their 12th appearance in a Santosh Trophy final, while the latter will make their 14th. While they have already met once earlier in Group A (Goa won 2-1), this will be the first time that the two sides will play each other in the final. Overall, the two sides have met 11 times in the Santosh Trophy, with Goa holding the edge, having won five matches, while Services have been victorious thrice; three of these matches have ended in draws.

Not fazed by the earlier defeat, Services head coach Mileswamy Govindaraju Ramachandran believes that six-time Santosh Trophy champions are ready for the game.

“Mentally and physically, we are in a good place, we are ready for the final. This is one of the biggest matches in the careers of these players, so we will hope for the best result. Our boys have done well to come back after the earlier defeat, and I think we are in a better place to face them now,” said Ramachandran.

“Our group game against Goa did not go in our favour, but we learned a lot from that. Because of that, we have now been able to turn our fortunes and reach the final. They are definitely not a small team, and have some quality players in their ranks. We have to play well from the start,” he said.

Services captain P Christopher Kamei said, “The crowd here in Arunachal have been amazing, and we have really enjoyed playing here in front of them. We are excited for the final.”

Goa have been on an amazing run so far in the Santosh Trophy – they have not tasted defeat in 11 outings, and will be looking to make 13 their lucky number to win their sixth title.

Goa head coach Charles Dias said, “It’s been a long time since we made the final of the Santosh Trophy (the last time they did so was back in 2017 when they lost 0-1 to Bengal). Now that we are finally here, winning it is all that’s on our mind. That will do a lot for football in Goa.

“Services are a good team, and we need to be at our best against them. But we are still unbeaten, and our boys don’t like to lose matches. Of course, winning and losing are all a part of the game, but let’s hope we are not going to lose in the final,” he said.

Goa captain Mohammad Ali said, “All the boys are extremely focused on the match. We do everything that we are told in terms of strategies, and we’ve played amazing so far. We will do everything we can to win the trophy.”

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