ISL 2017: ISL clubs likely to face East Bengal, Mohun Bagan in preseason friendlies
What's the story?
Major I-League clubs, according to sources, could be playing pre-season friendly matches against Indian Super League clubs. Not only Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan and East Bengal but also teams like Minerva Punjab and debutants Neroca FC are also expected to warm-up against Delhi Dynamos FC and NorthEast United FC.
In case you didn't know....
After long speculations regarding the merger of the two top leagues in India, it was decided by the AIFF that both the ISL and the I-League will be played simultaneously for the upcoming season.
Mohun Bagan and East Bengal were pretty inclined to join the much-hyped ISL, but various financial and non-financial problems cropped which did not favour them. Bengaluru FC are the only team to join the ISL from the I-League and will make their debut in the football fiesta along with Jamshedpur FC.
The heart of the matter
According to reports, I-League runners-up Mohun Bagan will try to check out their strengths and weaknesses before they start their season by playing against two ISL clubs, FC Goa and FC Pune City. Their arch-rivals East Bengal will lock horns with Mumbai City FC, FC Pune City and new entrants Jamshedpur FC. Minerva Punjab are scheduled to play Delhi Dynamos FC while Neroca FC will play against NorthEast United FC.
Apart from being a friendly and a pre-season warm-tie, these matches will clearly bring out the difference in quality between the clubs of the two concerned leagues. If there is a possible merger ahead, this is a kind of rehearsal before a unified league takes over Indian football.
The ISL is scheduled to begin on the 17th of November. Though no official date has been announced about when the I-League will kick-off, it is likely to be around the first week of November. The upcoming season will be the biggest ISL season so far, with 10 teams participating and will span around five months.
With Indian football on the rise, quality-wise and in FIFA rankings, coupled with the on-going FIFA U17 World Cup success, it is on the verge of becoming a powerhouse of Asian football. It is necessary that the AIFF introduces a single league just similar to what European countries have.