AIFF had decided to make Santosh trophy an U23 age group affair so that new players get chance and new talents get unearthed. But they faced severe protest from the state associations. This forced the AIFF to remove the restriction. However, the format will be changed.
Previously there used to be only 8 teams in the finals of Santosh Trophy. This time around there will be 16 teams playing in the finals. 8 teams who played in the quarter final of the previous edition will get a direct entry. Odisha as a host will get direct entry too. Rest of the 7 places will be filled by qualifications.
The 16 teams will be divided into 4 groups and will play in round-robin format. The top team from each group will move on to the semi-final.
The main event will kick off on 11th May and the final will be played on 27th of May 2012