New Delhi, Dec 27, 2016: The 10th Edition of the Hero I-League, India's premier domestic Football competition, will see a return of representation from all four regions of the country - Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Aizwal FC and Shillong Lajong from the East and North East; Mumbai FC, DSK Shivajians and Churchill Brothers FC Goa from the West; JSW Bengaluru FC and Chennai City FC from the South and debutants Minerva Punjab FC will bring the North of India back into top flight Indian Football after a gap of five seasons.
As the 10th edition of the Hero I-League was launched at a glittering ceremony at a hotel in the National Capital, Praful Patel, President, All India Football Federation (AIFF), said, "The ten participating teams in the 10th edition of the Hero I-League are based from across the length and breadth of the Country.
I thank Hero MotoCorp for their support to the I-League and Indian Football. The League is the unifying factor for the Football fans in India as right from Aizwal FC in the North-East to Mumbai FC in Mumbai, and from Minerva City Punjab FC in Chandigarh to Chennai City FC in Chennai, the clubs represent pan India.
The Hero I-League is the premiere league of the country through which teams participate in the AFC Cup and the AFC Champions League.
I wish success to all the participating teams." Kushal Das, General Secretary, AIFF said, "The competitive spirit of the Hero I-League has been outstanding over the last few editions.
The League witnessed a substantial increase of almost 40 percent in spectator attendance and here we are, prior to the kick-off of the 10th edition, expecting the graph to further go up." He further stated, "This edition, the League has a pan India presence.
I wish luck to all the teams. May the best team come out as the winner of the Hero I-League. Hero Motocorp has been providing extensive support for the promotion of Indian Football and I thank them for their cooperation." Stabaek FC footballer Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, while speaking on the occasion of the opening of Hero I-League, said, " I am an AIFF Academy product and I owe everything to them.
Our country needs a league that runs for 8-9 months so that we can train for 5 days and play over the weekend which helps us become a better player and reach the level we want to achieve.
I hope more Indian players go to play in the top European and other leagues in the world. So, that they not only get better physical shape but also take their game to the next level." Gurpreet added on the development of Indian football, "Nothing is impossible, 2 years back nobody could imagine that I would be where I am today.
If this can happen anything is possible. " Sunil Chettri, Captain Bengaluru FC said, "This year the I - league is going to be a tough competition as new teams like DSK and Minerva are looking really promising and the contenders like Mohun Bagan and East Bengal are always in the race." Commenting on the success at AFC cup Sunil said, "If we are to be ambitious we would want to go and win the AFC Championship." The first game of the six-month long League will kick off on January 7 in Bengaluru with defending champions Bengaluru FC locking horns with Shillong Lajong FC.