I-League Qualifiers 2020 - All you need to know

The I-League Qualifiers 2020 will begin on October 8, with five teams vying for a spot in the I-League. Here's all you need to know about the venues, fixtures, match timings and safety protocol in place.

Kalyani Stadium

The Kalyani Municipal Stadium will host five of the I-League Qualifiers matches.   -  AIFF

The 2020-21 Indian football season will begin with the I-League Qualifiers from October 8.

The I-League Qualifiers will feature five teams vying for a lone spot in the I-League, which is the second division of Indian football.

Teams in the fray

The I-League Qualifiers will feature five teams - ARA FC from Gujarat, Bhawanipore FC of Kolkata, Garhwal FC of New Delhi, FC Bengaluru United of Bengaluru and Kolkata's Mohammedan SC.

Of the five teams, only Mohammedan SC has played in the I-League so far.

Where will it be held?

The I-League Qualifiers will be played from October 8 to 19 in West Bengal at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium [Salt Lake Stadium] in Kolkata and the Kalyani Municipal Stadium.

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Match timings

The opening matchday will see Bhawanipore FC take on FC Bengaluru United at 12:30pm, while Mohammedan SC will face Garhwal FC at 4:30pm. All matches will be held at the same time slots, except for the final day, when both matches will be played at 2pm.

Format of the tournament

Each team will play each other once in a round-robin format and the team that tops the table after the final matchday will be promoted to the I-League.

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What's at stake?

The winner of the I-League Qualifiers will gain promotion to the 2020-21 season of I-League. Traditional heavyweights Mohun Bagan and East Bengal will not feature in the upcoming I-League season as they have both migrated to the Indian Super League (ISL).

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Last year's champion Mohun Bagan merged with ATK to join the ISL, while East Bengal found a new sponsor in Shree Cement to also seal its ticket to the ISL.

Safety protocol

Due to ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the matches will be played behind closed doors and all players and officials involved will be kept in a bio-bubble for the duration of the tournament.

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Regular RT-PCR tests will be conducted on October 4 (Sunday), October 9 (Friday) and October 19 (Wednesday). If any team member will be tested positive, he/she will be isolated immediately. Meanwhile, no replacement will be allowed although AIFF will allow signing new players till September 30 (Wednesday).

The AIFF will monitor every member through regular checks including body temperature, oxygen level, etc, as well as RT-PCR test on pre-determined dates.

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