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Football: Kerala to play host as Super Cup returns in April after four years

The three cities of Kerala — Kochi, Kozhikode, and Thiruvananthapuram — will host the 2022-23 Super Cup, featuring 16 teams in the group stage, from April 8-25 this year, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) announced on Tuesday.

The qualifying round of the tournament will kick off on April 3.

All 11 teams from the Indian Super League and the champions of the 2022-23 I-League will get direct entry into the Group Stage of the Super Cup. Teams placed 2nd to 10th in the I-League will compete in the Qualifying Rounds for the four remaining Group Stage spots.

In the qualifiers, I-League teams placed 9th and 10th will face each other in Qualifier 1, with the winner set to meet the 2nd-placed team in Qualifier 2. Along with the aforementioned fixtures, I-League teams placed between 3rd to 8th will face each other in a knockout format for the Qualifiers.

The 2022-23 edition will mark the return of the Super Cup after four years. FC Goa emerged champions in the previous edition in 2019, beating Chennaiyin FC 2-1 in the final at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. The inaugural tournament in 2018 was won by Bengaluru FC, who beat East Bengal 4-1 in the final.

“It is great that the Super Cup is back after four years. We could not stage the tournament during the pandemic, therefore, its return is very positive news for Indian Football. It will provide more competitive opportunities for players,” said AIFF Secretary General Dr Shaji Prabhakaran, in a media release.

“It will be amazing to have the Hero Super Cup in an electric atmosphere in Kerala. I’m sure the Group Stage, followed by Knockout Rounds, will make for an interesting tournament. My best wishes to all participating teams,” he added.

The four I-League teams that emerge from the Qualifiers will join the 11 ISL sides and the I-League champions in the Group Stage of the Super Cup. The 16 teams will be divided into four groups of as many teams each, competing in a single round-robin format. The four group winners will qualify for the Semi-finals.

The group stage will be held from April 8-19, followed by the semi-finals on April 21 and 22 while the 2022-23 Super Cup final will take place on April 25.

The winners of the Super Cup will play 2021-2022 I-League champions Gokulam Kerala FC for a place in the 2023-24 AFC Cup group stage. If Gokulam Kerala FC wins the 2022-23 Super Cup, they get automatic qualification to the 2023-24 AFC Cup Group Stage.

Hero Super Cup Qualifiers fixtures:

April 3:    IL Team 9 vs IL Team 10

April 5:    IL Team 2 vs IL Team 9/10

April 5:    IL Team 3 vs IL Team 8

April 6:    IL Team 4 vs IL Team 7

April 6:    IL Team 5 vs IL Team 6

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