Shillong, Oct 23: The All India Football Federation has released the groupings for the next editions of the Senior National Football Championships – men and women – with Meghalaya set to take part in both.

For the Senior Men’s NFC for the Santosh Trophy, Meghalaya have been given a (dare we say it) relatively easy grouping with Odisha, Sikkim, Telangana, Pondicherry, Andaman & Nicobar Islands in Group 5.

The women’s team are in Group 1 with Haryana, Punjab, Sikkim, Telangana and Nagaland.

The draw was held on Friday.

The two senior NFCs will be played in a new format that will see the 36 states fight it out across six groups for a chance to make it to the final round.

“With the new competitive structure for the senior national championships, we can expect value addition in many aspects of the game at the state level,” AIFF Secretary General Shaji Prabhakaran said.

The six group toppers, along with three best second-placed teams will qualify for the final round of the Santosh Trophy while six group toppers and the four best second-placed teams will make it to the final round of the women’s championship.

The men’s event will also have Railways and Services given direct entry to the final round, while only Railways will have direct entry in the women’s competition.

The hosts of the final round of the respective tournaments will join as the remaining teams. If the hosts finish within the qualification spots in the group stage, then the next best team will take the qualification spot.

In the final rounds, the 12 best teams from across the country will be divided into two groups of six teams each and will play in a round-robin format before proceeding to the knockout rounds.

The 36 state FAs were also invited to bid for the hosting rights of the group stages and the final rounds.

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