New Delhi: The Indian Football calendar is a burgeoning one, and the 2022-23 season has seen it grow further. Now winding down towards the business end of the season, Indian Football fans are all set to be treated with yet another top tournament - the Super Cup, the draw for which was held at the Football House in New Delhi on Tuesday.
For the first time ever, the Super Cup will be held in Kerala. Sixteen teams are set to fight it out for India's premier cup competition, and in an unprecedented move, the winners of the Super Cup will also get a chance to play at the continental level.
The champions of the Super Cup will fight it out in a play-off against last season's I-League champions Gokulam Kerala FC, to determine who will get an entry into the AFC Cup South Zone group.
The tournament will see participation from 11 teams from the Indian Super League and 10 teams from the I-League. The eleven teams of the ISL and the winners of the I-League get a direct entry into the group stage of the competition.
Seven teams from the I-League (those ranked from second to eighth) will have a set of playoff qualifiers to get into the group stage of the tournament. Furthermore, the teams ranked ninth and tenth will play a qualifying playoff and the winners will get a place in the qualifiers.
The draw for the Super Cup saw the 16 participating teams divided into four groups of four. Group A consists of Bengaluru FC, Kerala Blasters FC, newly crowned I-League champions RoundGlass Punjab FC and the winners of the qualifier between the second ranked I-League team and the team that won the eliminator.
Group B consists of Hyderabad FC, Odisha FC, East Bengal FC and the winners of the playoff between the I-League teams ranked fourth and seventh. ATK Mohun Bagan, Jamshedpur FC, FC Goa and the winners of the playoff between the teams ranked third and eighth in the I-League are in Group C.
Group D consists of the newly crowned ISL 2022-23 League Shield winners Mumbai City FC, Chennaiyin FC, North East United FC and the winners of the playoff between the fifth ranked I-League team and the one ranked sixth. The fixtures for the competition are listed below.
"A vibrant cup competition is one of the missing parts of the Indian football landscape. With the Super Cup, we are trying to bridge that gap and this season's Super Cup gains all the more importance as the winners will have the chance to compete in the AFC Cup next season," said AIFF Secretary General Shaji Prabhakaran in a official statemnet relaesed by AIFF.
"Super Cup is one of the important links between the ISL and the I-League. The Super Cup will serve as a platform where all the clubs from the top two leagues in the country can come together as one family and compete against each other. My best wishes to all of them," he said.
He further expressed his excitement at the fact that Kerala will play hosts to the Super Cup.
"Kerala, of course, is a great place to restart the Super Cup. The love and passion for the game here in Kerala will take it a long way. We are immensely thankful to the Kerala Football Association and the local government for its proactive cooperation and making sure this competition takes place in God's own country," said Prabhakaran.
Speaking at the press conference announcing the draw in Kozhikode, Kerala Football Association General Secretary Anilkumar Prabhakar said, "We are delighted to welcome the Super Cup to the land of football. We will do our best to make the experience a memorable one for all participating teams. I'd also like to thank the AIFF leadership for having faith in Kerala FA and confirming Kerala as the venue."