I-League 2017/18: Aizawl FC set for hectic fixture congestion in maiden AFC Champions League campaign
The reigning I-League champions are in for a rough ride, with fixture congestion in the way
What's the story?
A closer look at the I-League schedule reflects that India's top-flight champions - Aizawl FC are going to have it extremely tough in the first few months of the season. A hectic scheduling means that Aizawl will have to play their league games along with their AFC Champions League playoffs in a cramped up schedule.
In case you didn't know...
Aizawl FC won the I-League last year and now have a chance of becoming the first Indian club to play in the AFC Champions League. For that, they will have to get past three playoff rounds in the month of January. Similarly, Bengaluru FC of the ISL will play their AFC Cup qualifier in February.
The heart of the matter
Aizawl FC are set to play their 17 matches (the dates for the 18th match is yet to be decided) of the season in a period of just 91 days; BFC will play their 18 ISL matches in over 103 days. Point being that the ISL matches are decently placed according to the needs of the team, whereas no such thought has gone on behind the I-League scheduling.
Aizawl FC are set to play just five games in November and December whereas that figure can go up to 17 for January and February combined if the reigning champions progress further in the AFC Champions League playoffs.
I-League will begin on November 25 with Aizawl FC currently in their final few days of preparation for their title defence. The Mizoram-based club begin their campaign against East Bengal on November 28.
The hectic scheduling may take a toll on the Aizawl FC players and manager, and ultimately have an impact on the team's performance levels. The team owners or the management staff may have a similar reaction to this scheduling issue as that of Mohun Bagan's manager Sanjoy Sen, who was banned by the AIFF last year for his comments on the governing body regarding scheduling issue in 2016.