Spreading the beautiful game across different states is one of the key objectives in Vision 2047, and the Federation has begun that process by taking the Hero Santosh Trophy to newer heights. The Hero Santosh Trophy is now on a revival path, with the tournament's semi-finals and final set to be hosted abroad for the first time – in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The-aiff.com is in Riyadh, and will be following the progress of the four semi-finalists and other events around the Hero Santosh Trophy closely in a series of stories.
AIFF Media Team
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA: All roads converge in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as four teams – Punjab, Services, Karnataka, and Meghalaya – alight from their flights at the King Khalid International Airport to fight it out at the business end of the Hero Santosh Trophy.
The buzz is in the air for all the four sides, as they prepare to etch their names in the history books of this legacy competition.
The Hero Santosh Trophy’s Arabian tale will get underway at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh and Punjab and Meghalaya will be the first to grace the hallowed turf, when they cross swords on Wednesday, March 1, 2023 at 5.30 pm IST, followed by the second semi-final, where Services will take on Karnataka at 9 pm IST at the same venue.
The two losing semi-finalists will face each other in the 3rd Place Match at the King Fahd International Stadium, which will kick-off on March 4 at 6 pm IST, with the final being played the following day at the same venue at 9 pm IST.
MG Ramachandran, Head Coach of Services team said after landing in Riyad, "The whole team is very excited to be a part of this historic tournament. We have come prepared to give our best in the semi-finals and eye the trophy next. We want to go home with our prize."
"It’s a wonderful feeling. Everyone is excited and gearing up for the semi-final match. I can see that the boys are going to experience something very different," Khlain Syiemlieh, head coach of Meghalaya team said.
Meanwhile, Punjab head coach Harpreet Saini believes that this tournament will serve as an important step forward for the development of the players and said, "Everyone is so thrilled to have come to Riyadh and participate in the Hero Santosh Trophy. It’s the time to be focussed on the job, what we are here for."
Karnataka head coach Ravi Babu Raju said, "This is a very important tournament and we are delighted to be here. It’s the first time ever that any team will be playing the Hero Santosh Trophy on a foreign soil which is surely an historic moment. It’s time to show what everyone is capable of."