New Delhi, Jan 8 (IANS) The 14th edition of I-League is all set to kick off on Saturday and will be played among 11 teams in four bio-secure stadia — the Salt Lake stadium, the Mohun Bagan ground and the Kishore Bharati Stadium in Kolkata, and the Kalyani Municipal Stadium in Kalyani.
Mohammedan Sporting will take on debutants Sudeva at the Salt Lake stadium in the opening match of the season on Saturday.
The league will be played in a bio-bubble sans spectators. Mohammedan and Sudeva are the two promoted teams that will be competing this season. While Sudeva are playing in the I-League for the first time, thus becoming the first team based out of New Delhi to play in the league, Mohammedan are returning to the competition after a gap of seven years.
Three more former champions — Churchill Brothers, Chennai City FC and Aizawl FC — also take their place in the 11-team field along with Manipur’s TRAU FC, Gokulam Kerala FC and Real Kashmir FC.
All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) developmental side Indian Arrows are also set to kick-start a fourth successive campaign, rounding off the group of 11.
The complications created by the Covid-19 pandemic has necessitated a shortened calendar this season, giving rise to a change in the format of the league.
In the first round, all teams play each other once leading to a top-six championship stage which will be divided into two groups. In Group A, each of the top-six play each other once with the eventual winner being decided on the basis of highest points accumulated across the 15 games; while in Group B, all teams play against each other once to determine the relegation. Points will be carried forward from the league phase into the second round.