In star striker Marcus Joseph - the league's top goalscorer last season with 15 - they have the kind of charismatic on-pitch leader who can power them through to the top. As with most I-League sides there's been a lot of chopping-and-changing in the squad ahead of this season, and that makes predicting how they will do ever so hard. Either way, Kolkata will wait with bated breath to see if the big three of Indian football will be reunited next season in the ISL. Also watch out for Sreenidi Deccan FC - they had a very impressive debut season (finishing third) and appear to have made some smart moves in the transfer market.
We know this because the AIFF announced the fixtures on November 1, 11 whole days ahead of the opener. As everyone involved knew the home-and-away system was coming back months in advance (the ISL schedule was announced on September 1, for instance), one can but wonder why it took so long. What's at stake? Besides that big-shiny I-League trophy? Promotion to the ISL - as promised in 2019! That sounds big...
Which also means that travel can be brutal - on bodies and on wallets - hence, the AIFF's travel subsidies. Onto the actual football then. Who are the best team(s) on paper? It's hard to look past the usual suspects. Gokulam Kerala are two-time defending champions and will be chomping at the bit to go and complete their hattrick - and get that ISL promotion.
Real Kashmir x NEROCA score today - 11.02.2023 - Azscore
NEROCA - Real Kashmir FC Betting Odds. Football. I-League
NEROCA host Real Kashmir FC as I-League makes much
I-LeagueTheir closest challengers over the past two seasons were one of the great institutions of Indian sport - Mohammedan Sporting Club (founded in 1891). They have warmed up pretty well for this season, defending their Calcutta Football League crown in an unbeaten campaign. Coach Andrey Chernyshov has already taken them to the brink of prominence; appointed last year, he led them to the final and the semifinal of the Durand Cup, won them their first CFL in 40 years and then their second, and took them to within a win of the I-League trophy last season.
Real Kashmir x NEROCA 15.03.2022 LiveZone
Wait, what happened to the Indian Arrows? And weren't Kenkre relegated? The Arrows have, yet again, been disbanded. They finished 10th out of 13 clubs last season, but the new AIFF management was of the opinion that the funds utilised to run the club would be put to better use in developing youth leagues. Which is an understandable line of thought. Kenkre, meanwhile, have been given an exemption from relegation after an appeal. They will have no travel subsidies this season, and they will have to sign Indian Arrows players in January (which they probably should do even if they aren't being compelled to). Travel subsidies? You thought we were being merely dramatic when we said "Manjeri to Srinagar, Mumbai to Imphal"? The I-League (and its predecessor, the NFL) has helped take football nation-wide and out of sport's age-old pockets in the country. That remains this league's greatest USP - South-to-North (2945 km from Payyanad stadium to TRC stadium), West-to-East (2751 kms from Cooperage to Khuman Lampak), the I-League truly covers the length and breadth of India.
It's huge. This is the one announcement most I-League owners had been waiting to hear for years now. Promotion-relegation is an integral part of most football structures worldwide - no one really wants to see a closed off system living in a bubble, do they? (Other than those in the bubble, of course). Over the past few years there's been a lot of confusion about the future of Indian football, and if this - admittedly baby step - is implemented, it will go a long way in clearing the clouds. As former India international Jo Paul Ancheri says, "Always in football, we can see people coming up from the lower levels to and replacing those at the top. That's the way of things, and the roadmap will go a long way in facilitating that process. "Will there be relegation from the ISL? No, not yet.
NEROCA - Lonestar Kashmir - Tribuna.com
Any other stories to keep an eye on? Churchill Brothers are always great value in terms of sheer entertainment and that ought to hold true in 2022 as well. Aizawl's commitment to developing Mizo football is unparalleled and you add coach Standly Rozario's love for attacking football and they may well continue to be the neutral's favourites. File photo of Aizawl and Real Kashmir.
Real Kashmir vs Neroca FC LIVE - Inside Sport India
They will have a proper challenge ahead of them, though. They've had to replace their coach, the exciting Italian Vincenzo Annesse, with Cameroon's Richard Towa. They've also had to almost completely refresh their squad after at least six regular starters left. There have been some interesting additions, like Brazilian playmaker Everton Kaka who could become their main man. But the key will be for Tawo to do what Annesse did so well - get the absolute best of the Indian talent at his disposal. Gokulam head coach Richard Towa.
AIFF MediaReal Kashmir continue to be a beacon of hope in a greatly troubled region, but they'll hoping for a bit of magical realism to turn their fortunes around on the pitch. Rajasthan United created ripples when they beat ATK Mohun Bagan and drew East Bengal in the Durand Cup earlier this year, as they leapfrogged them both to qualify for the knockouts. They'll want to prove that was no flash in the pan.
I-League: Neroca hold Chennai City to draw after late penalty