India’s premier domestic football competition a.k.a I-League is going to see a return of representation from all four popular regions of the country – Mumbai FC, DSK Shivajians and Churchill Brothers from the West; Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Aizwal FC and Shillong Lajong from the East and North East; Bengaluru FC and Chennai City FC from the South and debutants Minerva Punjab will bring the North back into top notch Indian football after a long break of five seasons, in its 10 edition.
Bengaluru FC took the I-League by storm when they debuted in the 2013-14, a season they would show off with their maiden I-League crown. East Bengal and Dempo were the only clubs to have retained an NFL/I-League title the following season, but were defeated by Mohun Bagan on the final day of the season. They claimed the title back in 2016, and then went on to write history as the first Indian team to play the AFC Cup final in November same year. They improvised on the record which belonged to Dempo and East Bengal, both of whom were beaten in semi-finals. Head coach Albert Roca will be getting his first taste of playing other Indian clubs, and the first few weeks could be tricky for the team starting from January 7 in the first match against Shillong Lajong FC.
Bengaluru FC captain Sunil Chhetri and the team are surely going to try their level best to better the previous season’s successful campaign with a title win at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup. Apart from clinching the 2016 I-League title, Albert Roca and Bengaluru FC became the first Indian club to reach the AFC Cup final, where they lost to Iraq’s Air Force Sports Club 0-1 on November 5 earlier. It’s going to be a different and a difficult I-League season for all the teams. Apart from the new clubs, we can see every club has gotten better than before. When Bengaluru FC was a new team, people did not take notice but once they won the trophy every club is after them. In 2016, they were one of the top contenders and that made really difficult for them to survive and clinch the title.
Bengaluru FC will be going to Jordan for their preliminary round match 2 of the AFC Champions League against ‘Al Wehdat SC’ of Jordan on 31 January. But, this side will get just three days to prepare for this big match, as they play ‘Churchill’ in Goa in a fifth round I-League match on January 27. This is going to be really hectic for the team and will be worth watching. We will be witnessing everyone’s favourite team defending their title in the I-league starting from January 7, 2016. Grab your tickets, flood the fortress, and catch the Blues in action!