East Bengal

I-League 2017: Hero I-League launched with a bang

[caption id="attachment_58566" align="aligncenter" width="580"]738X503_10452802845a13f715273c0 All the coaches and captains of the I-League teams in one frame. Image Source: AIFF[/caption]

Internet Desk: The 11th edition of the Hero I-League, which is also considered as the top football league, was launched with a bang in New Delhi today. The battle between the clubs will be much bigger this time as three new teams from three different states, will play in this year’s League. A minnow like Aizawl FC defied all odds last season to win their maiden title last season. The new sides can gather much inspiration from them. It would be a landmark year for Indian football too as the Indian U17 colts who represented in the recently concluded FIFA U17 World Cup and the Indian U19 colts will play together in the I-League for Indian Arrows. It will be a 10 teams affair from eight states of the nation who will face each other on home and away basis to win One Crore-prize money and the Trophy.

City giant East Bengal appointed Khalid Jamil as their coach at the start of the season who led Aizawl FC to win their first I-League title. The Red & Gold Brigade is under enormous pressure as they haven’t won the much awaited title for last 14 years and there is a possibility that East Bengal will play Indian Super League (ISL) from next season and this could be their last chance to win the much anticipated title.

Khalid looked pretty confident ahead of his new challenge,” It is a new challenge for all of us, so we have to fight. East Bengal hasn’t won the I-League for a long period of time and the expectations would be high this season. I have just told the boys to give their best in the field,” said Khalid.

The Red & Gold Brigade had won the Calcutta Football League for a record eighth successive time. East Bengal captain Arnab Mondal wants to replicate that form in the I-League too.” We started the season on a positive note by winning the CFL for a record eighth time. Now our focus will be to win the I-League at any cost. I always say to my juniors that to work very hard to win the League. We are here to stay together and coach is here to instruct,” concluded Arnab.

Mohun Bagan has performed really well in last three seasons of the I-League. But in this season a lot of footballers have signed for various ISL franchises. On being asked how he is looking at this situation, Bagan Coach Sanjoy Sen said,” Look in a club players do come and goeas but the system remains the same. It depends on how the new players cope up with the system of Mohun Bagan and we are very much positive. It’s a challenge for the new players to show the world about what they are capable off as there are a lot of talented new players and I hope we can replicate our last three years performance.”

The Green & Maroon Brigade will be heavily relying on their star Haitian winger Sony Norde. He played a pivotal role for Bagan when they won the I-League Trophy a couple of season’s back.” I always try to help my team and it’s not only about me it’s about the team. Hope I can score goals in every match and help my team to win games. We are ready for the challenge and the team is upbeat for that,” concluded Sony.

Luis Norton de’ Matos was the coach of Indian U17 team in the recently concluded FIFA U17 world Cup. According to Matos they are here to learn and take something positives from easch game.” We're here to learn more and we have to give our best. If we draw, if not win, it's a great victory for us and we are positive for the challenges,” sadi Matos.

On being asked about Indian Arrows as a team, Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen said,” Earlier it was Pailan Arrows, now Indian Arrows. May be the name is different and players were amazing. It'll be challenge for everyone including them and let's see hiw everyone copes with that.”

The three new additions are in the form of Gokulam Kerala FC from Calicut, Neroca FC from Imphal, Manipur and the Indian Arrows who would be based in Delhi. While the team prize money remains consistent for the winners (1 Crore), Runners Up (60 Lakh), Third Place (40 Lakhs) and Fourth Place (25 Lakhs) teams, that for individual prize moneys have seen a whopping increase of over 100% this season.

This year is all about showcasing what the Hero I-League has been doing for years. Launching Indian football's future stars. History is testimony that the Hero I-League has laid the foundation for Indian football stars to go ahead and shine in their careers and make the country proud. The edition also pays special tribute to the coaches who create those stars with their dedication and commitment towards the beautiful game. We are happy to welcome Kerala back in the league and the return of I-League football to Delhi. I believe these new developments along with the clubs from Northeast, West Bengal, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Goa will make the league even more competitive and  interesting. I would like to convey my best wishes to all the participating clubs of this year’s edition,” said Mr. Kushal Das, General Secretary, All India Football Federation.

 

The 10 teams of the 11th Hero I-League are – Defending Champions Aizawl FC (Mizoram), Neroca FC (Manipur), Shillong Lajong FC (Meghalaya), Mohun Bagan AC & Kingfihser East Bengal (West Bengal), Minerva Punjab (Punjab), Gokulam Kerala FC (Kerala), Churchill Brothers FC Goa (Goa), Indian Arrows (Delhi), Chennai City FC (Chennai).

The first match will kick off from November 25, 2017 between Minerva Punjab and Mohun Bagan in Ludhiana at 17:30 hrs.

 

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