Five clubs - Mohammedan SC, Garhwal FC, Bhawanipore FC, ARA FC and FC Bengaluru United are all set to battle it out for a single qualification spot in the 2020-21 season of the I-League.
West Bengal will be the host state of the I-League Qualifiers as the five teams will play their matches at the Kalyani Municipal Stadium in Kalyani and the famous Vivekanda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK), popularly known as the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.
The qualifiers will be played in a single round-robin format, with each of the five teams playing against each other only once. The team that finishes at the top of the standings after all the matches are completed will earn the qualification to the I-League.
I-League Qualifiers 2020 Fixtures
The qualification stage begins with Bhawanipore FC taking on FC Bengaluru United on October 8, 2020, at the YBK Stadium at 12:30 pm IST. Later in the day, Mohammedan Sporting SC face off against Garwhal FC at the Kalyani Stadium at 4:30 pm IST.
The matches are scheduled with a comfortable two-day gap between each matchday, giving the teams ample time to recover for their next fixture. The final matchday is set to be held on 19th October, with matches simultaneously scheduled at both the stadiums. FC Bengaluru United will take on Mohammedan Sporting SC at the YBK Stadium whereas ARA FC will face Bhawanipore FC at the Kalyani Stadium at 2:00 pm IST.
AIFF Leagues CEO Sunando Dhar spoke about the significance of the I-League Qualifier stage and the adjustments made by the federation owing to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis:
"The Hero I-League qualifiers are an important event as it gives a number of teams the chance to qualify for this pan-India league. It is unfortunate that these teams missed out on the opportunity to gain promotion last season due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why this is a unique opportunity for them to make it to the Hero I-League this season. Wishing them all the very best in their endeavours."
The I-League 2019-20 season was won by Mohun Bagan back in April after the AIFF decided to cancel the remaining matches of the season and award the title to the Kolkata club. Mohun Bagan were clear league leaders at that stage, being 16 points clear of their nearest opponent and arch-rivals, East Bengal.
As a result of the circumstances this year, none of the teams from the league were relegated and the dedicated prize money, apart from the winning team's prize money, was distributed among all of the clubs.
The I-League 2020 Qualifiers will be conducted in West Bengal while adhering to all the necessary safety conditions for the players and officials involved.Published 17 Sep 2020, 08:56 IST