I-League 2020-21: Teams, format, venues, opening fixtures and all you need to know

Owing to current circumstances due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19 pandemic, the new format of the 2020-21 I-League will see the competition divided into two phases.

The League Stage will see all sides play one match against each other. After every team completes 10 games each, they will be divided into two groups (Representative Image).   -  i-league.org

The 2020-21 season of the I-League will be witnessing a new format. This time the league has done away with the traditional double round-robin format.

Owing to current circumstances due the ongoing threat of the coronavirus pandemic situation, the new format will see the league divided into two phases.

The first phase will see all the 11 teams play one match against each other. After every team plays 10 games each, they will be divided into two groups – Group A and B.

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Group A will consist of the teams that finish in the top six spots in the League stage. During this second phase, these six teams will once again play a match each against each other. The points from both the phases will be put together to determine the champion.

Meanwhile, Group B will comprise of the teams that finish in the bottom five spots during the League stage. This group will also follow a round-robin format. But in this case, the points from both phases will be put together to determine which side gets relegated.

However, Sudeva Delhi FC and Indian Arrows have immunity from relegation this season. If either of these teams finish at the bottom of Group B, the team placed above them will be relegated.

- THE VENUES -

The entire league will be played at four venues – Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, the Mohun Bagan Ground, and the Kishore Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata, and the Kalyani Municipal Stadium in Kalyani.

- THE TEAMS -

Aizawl FC, Chennai City, Churchill Brothers FC, Gokulam Kerala FC, Indian Arrows, Mohammedan SC, NEROCA FC, Real Kashmir FC, RoundGlass Punjab FC, Sudeva Delhi FC and Tiddim Road Athletic Union (TRAU).

- THE OPENING MATCHDAY -

The 2020-21 season of the I-League will kick off in Kolkata on Saturday with multiple clashes, including a much-awaited opener between debutants Sudeva FC and newly-promoted Mohammedan SC.

In the first day's other fixtures, former champion Chennai City FC will take on Gokulam Kerala, and Aizawl FC faces Punjab FC. While Sudeva is the first club from the national capital to play in I-League, Mohammedan won the I-League Qualifiers last October.

- QUOTES FROM THE CAMPS -

"We have a young team that has been working very hard. We keep our expectations very high and we would like to start our season with a win. It would be the perfect setting for our season ahead," said Sudeva FC head coach Chencho Dorji ahead of his team's game against Mohammedan.

"We want to win all our matches, that is what we expect from ourselves and that is our target. Starting with a win would be very good for the morale of the players who have worked really hard," Mohammedan SC manager Jose Hevia claimed.

"I am looking forward to playing in the I-League and we are ready to go. We want to start the season on a positive note and although tomorrow will be a tough challenge we are raring to go," Gokulam Kerala striker Dennis Antwi said ahead of his side's match against Chennai City FC.

"Gokulam are a good team and traditionally Chennai City FC and Gokulam FC have played a lot of high-intensity matches. It is going to be a very interesting match. A positive result will give us a lot of boost in morale," Chennai City coach Satyasagara added.

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