Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Former champions Mohun Bagan will take on Aizawl FC in the opening match of the 13th Hero I-League at the Rajiv Gandhi stadium in Aizawl, Mizoram on 30th November
Talking to the media persons after Hero I-League was officially launched at a glittering ceremony in the National Capital today ,the organizers said the league will feature 11 teams this season, with the induction of TRAU FC, winners of the Hero Second division last season.
In a first, fans from across the country this season will witness two local derbies – the legendary Kolkata derby between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, and the Imphal derby featuring Neroca FC and TRAU FC
This edition of the Hero I-League will be broadcast live exclusively on DSPORT and the Winners will be richer by Rs 1 crore, Runners up will receive Rs 60 Lakh, Third Place team to get Rs 40 Lakh, and Fourth Place – Rs 25 Lakh.
The Hero I–League has witnessed many a fairy-tale in recent years with underdogs such as Aizawl , Minerva Punjab (now Punjab FC) and Chennai City winning the previous three editions. The 12th edition debutants Real Kashmir also created a flutter and were the title contenders at one-point.
AIFF president Praful Patel, in his statement said: “We are very happy to welcome the TRAU FC to the 13th edition of the Hero I-League. The pan India presence has been the unique feature of the league in the last few editions, and is a true testimony to the manner it has played a critical role in spreading the game to all corners of the country.”
The 11 teams at the 13th Hero I-League are – Defending Champions Chennai City (Chennai), Punjab, Aizawl (Mizoram), NEROCA (Manipur), TRAU FC (Manipur), Mohun Bagan, East Bengal (West Bengal), Gokulam Kerala (Kerala), Churchill Brothers. Indian Arrows (Goa), Chennai City (Tamil Nadu), and Real Kashmir (Kashmir).
AIFF general secretary, Kushal Das said: “Over the years the Hero I-League has been scouting and providing a platform for future stars of Indian Football. In the 13th edition this year we have 11 teams from eight states and one Union Territory fighting for the top honours. I wish luck to all the participating teams.”