Lajong, Aizawl, Minerva, Real Kashmir progress to final round of Hero Elite League

A total of five teams have progressed from the playoff stage to the final round of the Hero Elite League (U-18).

Bengaluru FC in action in the Hero Elite League.   -  www.i-League.org

A total of five teams have progressed from the playoff stage to the final round of the Hero Elite League (U-18), joining the rest of the 11 teams that had made it to the penultimate stage of the tournament, directly from the zonal round.

MSP Football Academy and Minerva Punjab have made it through as the top two teams from Group A in the playoffs while defending champion Shillong Lajong and Aizawl FC have qualified as the best two teams in Group B.

Last season’s runner-up, Kerala Blasters was the surprise exit this time despite ending its playoff group unbeaten. It finished third in Group B with six points in its bag, two behind top two sides, Lajong and Aizawl. Real Kashmir pipped them as the best third-placed team, with seven points.

In the final round, MSP Academy join the likes of FC Goa, FC Pune City and Sudeva Football Club in Group A, while Minerva Punjab and Shillong Lajong join Chennaiyin FC and Reliance Youth Foundation in Group B. Aizawl and Real Kashmir have been grouped with Mohun Bagan and Salgaocar in Group D.

East Bengal, which was the runner-up of the Hero Elite League in the 2016-17 season, seems to have drawn some tough opponents in Group C, with Bengaluru FC, Delhi Dynamos and SAI Guwahati awaiting the Kolkata giant.

Groups A and C teams kick their final round matches off on Sunday, January 27, while the sides from Groups B and D play their respective first matches on the following day.

Final Round

Group A:

FC Goa

FC Pune City

MSP Football Academy

Sudeva FC

Group B:

Chennaiyin FC

Minerva Punjab FC

Reliance Football Youth Champs

Shillong Lajong FC

Group C:

Bengaluru FC

Delhi Dynamos FC

Quess East Bengal

SAI Guwahati

Group D:

Aizawl FC

Mohun Bagan

Real Kashmir

Salgaocar FC