Minerva Punjab, Mohun Bagan to kickstart 2017-18 I-League season

I-League, the top tier football league in the country, is all set to kick off a little over a week after the cash-rich Indian Super League (ISL), on Saturday November 25, as Mohun Bagan take on Minerva Punjab.

Both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan as well as two-time Indian Super League champions ATK will play their respective home matches at the refurbished Salt Lake Stadium, which hosted the under-17 World Cup on October 28.

There had been a lot of speculation surrounding the I-League fixtures, over the last few weeks.

Football aficionados in India have constantly debated and discussed over the motion "I-League vs ISL". Defending champions Aizawl host Lajong in the first such derby at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium on December 18. For the first time since the inception of ISL in 2014, the franchise league and I-League will be held concurrently this season.

The third new club, a team comprising the best India U-17 and U-19 players dubbed the Indian Arrows, are slated to begin their campaign with a home game against Chennai City FC, though the AIFF is yet to confirm the date, kick-off time and venue for this match.

Season's first Kolkata Derby featuring giants Mohun Bagan and East Bengal will take place on December 3 which is also surprisingly a 2 PM kick-off. The dates for the last round of fixtures have not yet been released as it will be decided later depending on the points table. With Pune-based DSK Shivajians opting out, this I-League will have a ten-team affair. However, some of the off-the-pitch matter to be taken care of could have gotten a bit more hard due to the delayed release of these rankings.

The verdict in most occasions have turned out to be this: Yes, the Indian Super League has done plenty for the promotion of the handsome game in the country, but it is I-League, who has shaped up all the star Indian footballers who are able to turn attention today in the ISL. However, the release of the fixtures just 11 days ahead of the actual start of the league does not bode well for the tournament.

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