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Why is the State senior football championship still a knockout event?

Action from the recent Kerala State junior football championship in Kochi.

Action from the recent Kerala State junior football championship in Kochi.
| Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Over the last couple of weeks, the Kerala Football Association has been organising its sub-junior and junior State inter-district championships in a league-cum-knockout format giving players ample exposure.

Surprisingly, the State senior men’s inter-district championship — which begins at the Kottapadi Stadium in Malappuram on Saturday (Sept. 2-9) — will be a knockout affair. The championship is a selection event to pick the Kerala team for the Santosh Trophy’s preliminary phase in October. But nearly half of the State’s 14 teams will bow out after playing just one match which is not likely to give the selectors much time to have a proper look at them.

However P. Anilkumar, the general secretary of the Kerala Football Association, explained that there were multiple reasons for this.

“We have more matches with reduced match timings of about 60 to 70 minutes in the sub-junior and junior State championships to give the selectors more time to understand the quality of players. But for seniors, we have to stick to 90-minute matches,” said Anilkumar, in a chat with The Hindu, on Thursday.

“It will be an expensive affair because senior players will need to have at least 24 hours rest after every match and if we have a league-cum-knockout event that will increase the duration of the tournament.

More expensive

“Now, we have it for nine days (knockout format) but with a league-cum-knockout format, it will go up to 20 or 25 days and the accommodation and other costs will be triple of what we will be having now.

“In future, we may be able to make the seniors also into a league-cum-knockout event which we are unable to do now because of budgetary constraints.”

Other options

Anilkumar also pointed out that the selectors have other events to observe the seniors.

“In the senior level, we are also taking from the clubs because we are watching their matches in the Kerala Premier League and the KPL qualifiers,” he said.

“But the age-group players don’t have such exposure…that is why we had decided to make it a league-cum-knockout for juniors and sub-juniors so that they will get some two to three matches. And the selectors will also have time to spot the best players.”

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