Kerala have been placed along with hosts Goa in the first phase of the Santosh Trophy National Football Championship.
Jammu & Kashmir, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat are the other teams in Group A.
Nine teams from six groups will progress to the final phase to be held in Arunachal Pradesh.
Defending champions Karnataka, runners-up Meghalaya and hosts Arunachal will join the nine qualifiers in the final stage.
The 12 teams will be divided into two groups six teams each. The top two will advance to the semifinals.
Kerala, who failed to qualify for the semifinals last season, have named Satheevan Balan as head coach.