I-League 2017-18 is set to kick off on November 25, 2017. However, it is Indian Super League (ISL) which has hogged the limelight because of big names attached to it. I-League will be entering into his 11th season and has been a league from where talents have emerged from the north-eastern part of country. On the other hand, ISL recently rose to fame, the fourth season of the league has already started.
I-League is facing serious competition from ISL’s growing prominence. Several players have made a move towards the latter. Even defending champions Aizawl FC have lost a few players who have switched sides for their own development. Despite all odds, the teams are filled with confidence ahead of the league’s first match to be played between Minerva FC Academy FC and Mohun Bagan at Guru Nanak stadium, Ludhiana.
Shillong Lajong FC’s head coach Bobby Nongbet is optimistic ahead of the league. He told Hindustan Times,
I have enough faith in my players from the academy, as well as the other players in the senior team like Redeem (Tlang), who are already well-experienced in terms of playing at this level. The younger boys have played in the Shillong Premier League, as well as the U-18 I-League, so they are well prepared to play in the I-League now.
Aizawl FC’s seasoned winger Shylo Malsawmtluanga too was happy with the rise rise of sport in Mizoram. He said,
We (Mizoram) have quite a few footballers playing across India, and there will be many more coming up in the next few years. The level of competition in the Mizoram Premier League (MPL) is very high. The intensity at which the games are played is really incredible.
NEROCA have entered the tournament as a promoted team from I-League’s second division. The team’s head coach Gift Raikhan talked about the blend of young and experienced players in the team. He said,
I have young local talent in my team who I found in a span of 2-3 years and eventually played them alongside the older players. Balance is key while building any side.
When it comes to money matters, the upcoming edition will fetch Rs 1 crore for the winner, Rs 60 lakh for the runner-up and Rs 40 lakh for the third place side.