Chennai: The Santosh Trophy is not the tournament it had been at the height of amateur era, but its primacy is intact for some states. Among the teams competing in the south zone qualifiers, starting here on Sunday, only Karnataka have an I-League club. The Santosh Trophy is still the holy grail for Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The format of the Santosh Trophy has changed this year, for the better. The teams have been divided into five zones and the top two from each qualifying leg will advance to the February 24-March 9 final phase at Siliguri, West Bengal. On the flip side, the buzz is missing here on the eve of the five-team south zone qualifiers because fans find it difficult to get enthused about a trophy-less tournament.
According to conventional wisdom, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu should be main contenders for the two slots from the zone.