Kalinga Super Cup 2024: Group stage draw announced in New Delhi
The champions of the Kalinga Super Cup will be nominated to play in the ACL 2 Preliminary Stage of the AFC 2024-25 season.
The draw for the group stage of the Kalinga Super Cup 2024 was conducted at the Football House of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) in New Delhi on Monday. The AIFF earlier in November announced that the Kalinga Super Cup will be held in Odisha from January 9, 2024, to January 28, 2024.
The tournament will feature 16 teams (12 from the Indian Super League and four from the I-League) divided into four groups of four teams each.
The teams were divided into four pots, with the 12 ISL teams placed in Pots 1-3, according to their points per match in the ISL 2023-24 as of December 17, 2023.
Mohun Bagan Super Giant, FC Goa, Mumbai City FC, and Kerala Blasters were in Pot 1. Odisha FC, Chennaiyin FC, East Bengal FC, and NorthEast United FC were in Pot 2. Bengaluru FC, Jamshedpur FC, Punjab FC, and Hyderabad FC were in Pot 3. The three I-League teams were in Pot 4.
Five I-League teams confirmed their participation in the Kalinga Super Cup – Gokulam Kerala FC, Sreenidi Deccan FC, Shillong Lajong FC, Inter Kashi, and Rajasthan United FC. The top three of these teams, as per the I-League 2023-24 standings after the matches on December 24, 2023, will qualify directly for the Kalinga Super Cup group stage as I-League 1, I-League 2, and I-League 3, respectively. The bottom two teams will contest a single-leg qualifying play-off on January 9 to determine the fourth and final I-League team in the group stage. This team, known as I-League 4, was not included in the draw pot and automatically got placed in Group D at Position D4.
Kalinga Super Cup 2024 Group Stage Draw
Mohun Bagan SG
East Bengal FC
Kerala Blasters FC
NorthEast United FC
Mumbai City FC
I-League 4 (winner of qualifying play-off)
Kolkata giants East Bengal FC and Mohun Bagan Super Giant have been drawn into Group A, setting the stage for an exciting Kolkata derby in the early part of next year. Joining them in this group are Hyderabad FC and I-League 1. Kerala Blasters FC, NorthEast United FC, and Jamshedpur FC find themselves in Group B with I-League 2.
Group C features the likes of Mumbai City FC, Chennaiyin FC, Punjab FC and I-League 3. The final group, Group D, promises intense clashes with defending champions Odisha FC, former champions Bengaluru FC, FC Goa as well as the winner of the qualifying play-off, i.e., I-League 4.
AIFF Acting Secretary General Mr Satyanarayan M said, "I'd like to extend our thanks to the Odisha Government for facilitating this support for the Super Cup, which this year is going to be known as the Kalinga Super Cup.
"One of the reasons we are conducting it in January is because of the problems faced by the clubs when they played in April last year. One of the major rules we amended is that the clubs can field all six foreigners in the playing eleven. Hopefully, it will help the clubs. The winners will also get a continental club competition slot. Best of luck to all the teams," he added.
The tournament will adhere to a format akin to the Super Cup 2023, where the top-ranked team from each group will advance to the semi-finals. The winner of the final, to be played on January 28, will also earn a ticket to the 2024-25 AFC Champions League 2.