I-League 2nd Division to kick off on January 12

The 2018-19 Hero I-League 2nd Division season will see 16 teams participate with four debutants.

Local rivals Mohammedan Sporting (in picture) and ATK reserves will face off in the opening clash of the I-league 2nd Division.   -  Twitter/MDSCOfficial

With the two top-division leagues - I-League and Indian Super League - already half-way through, the Hero 2nd League is set to kick-off with local rivals Mohammedan SC and ATK Reserves facing off in the opening clash at the Kalyani Stadium on Saturday.

The I-League 2nd division will see 16 teams participate this season, including four debutants – ARA FC (Ahmedabad), ATK Reserves (Kolkata), Chhinga Veng (Aizawl) and Rainbow AC (Kolkata). The addition of ARA FC means the 2nd Division League now has teams from all four corners of India.

“It was our endeavour to spread the game throughout the country. It’s good to have a team from Gujarat for the first time, along with teams from other parts of the country,” said I-League CEO Sunando Dhar.

The format

The 2nd Division League will be played across three groups, with the teams facing-off against each other in a round-robin format. Each team will face each other twice in the home and away format in the respective groups.

The top teams from Group A and B, and the top two sides of Group C (barring the reserve sides of the ISL clubs) will make it to the final round, where the four sides will play each other twice in the home and away format. The team that finishes top of the table in the final Round will be crowned champion and earn promotion.

Spingboard

The 2nd Division League has acted as a springboard to the I-League for many clubs. Neroca FC which finished runner-up in the I-League in 2017-18 is in going strong this season, and Real Kashmir which won the 2nd Division last season is currently placed second in the I-League table.

Aizawl FC came through these ranks to eventually win the I-League in the 2016-17 season.

“The standard of the second division league has been improving every year, and we have seen teams come through the second division, like Aizawl FC, Neroca FC and Real Kashmir, who are doing very well in the I-League. This augurs well for Indian football,” said Dhar.

Group A

Lonestar Kashmir

Hindustan FC

ARA FC

Bengaluru FC (R)

FC Goa (R)

 

Group B

KBFC (R)

Chennaiyin FC (R)

South United

Ozone FC

Fateh Hyderabad

 

Group C

ATK (R)

JFC (R)

Mohammedan SC

Rainbow AC

Chhinga Veng

TRAU

 

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