2015-16 I-League Round 1: Welcome back!

Welcome back you misfits! After the breathtaking end to last season, I don't know if we will ever see anything like that again so why even continue? Pack it up, guys, there is nothing to see here. I mean, what could one-up the thrilling finally that was Mohun Bagan winning the I-League ahead of Bengaluru FC in Bangalore? What could outdo the five teams in trouble of relegation and then the last minute action that resulted in Dempo, the five time top-division champions, being relegated? Who knows, that is the beauty of football, the story never ends, the history is always being created.

This season may be marred due to three sides withdrawing from the I-League, the giant shadow caused by the Indian Super League, and the uncertainty surrounding the future but regardless, this season will have a lot to offer. This will probably be the most competitive season of the I-League yet! Who will win? Not many can surely say! The short-season and nine teams make this a very open race.

The season begins today with the defending champions, Mohun Bagan, taking on the newly promoted side, Aizawl. The Kolkata side has retained their two effective foreign players in Sony Norde and Katsumi Yusa while adding some firepower in Cornell Glenn, the 16-goal man from the 2014-15 season. Luciano Sabrosa meanwhile adds an experienced head at the back for the side who also signed some good potential Indian talents such as Kean Lewis and Brandon Fernandes while also retaining the likes of Dhanachandra Singh, Balwant Singh, and Jeje Lalpekhlua. Aizawl meanwhile will come out with a point to prove, that they are no push overs. They come into the I-League as the first Mizo club and will try to represent the area the best they can but might find it tough against Bagan.

Salgaocar hosting Bengaluru FC will conclude the first match-day. This will be Scotland vs. England. Salgaocar have a new Scottish coach, 2 Scottish players on the team, while Bengaluru FC have an English coach with two English players. Sadly, for Salgaocar coach, Malky Thomson, he will be without Darryl Duffy for the first game while Bengaluru FC will miss Robin Singh, which is a whole mess in itself. Bengaluru FC have reenforced this season, signing some good young Indian prospects, a good keeper in Amrinder Singh, signed a good replacement for Sean Rooney in Kim Seng-yong, and retained their core. The potential favorites for the league will have their work cut out tomorrow away from home.

The round will conclude on Sunday with Shillong Lajong hosting Mumbai and Sporting Goa hosting East Bengal. Lajong have been pretty quite this off-season but Mumbai have made some good signings in the foreign department. They retained former Lajong player, Matsugae, while signing in another former Lajong man, Minchol Son. Veteran Eric Brown and former J. League 2nd Division man, Ryuki Kozawa, was also signed. Sporting Goa meanwhile have a good core of foreign players, including Nigerian I-League goalscoring giant, Odafa Okolie, and former World Cupper, Densil Theobald. East Bengal have retained the other Nigerian giant, Ranti Martins while signing the championship winning goalscorer from last season, Bello Razaq. Do-Dong Hyun though will be the one to watch, after his performances for the Red and Gold in the Calcutta Football League.

So there it is. Of course DSK Shivajians get the bye week (as was the case before with Rawat FC).

9 January 2016: 
- Mohun Bagan vs. Aizawl (Barasat Stadium; 16:30).
- Salgaocar vs. Bengaluru FC (Fatorda Stadium; 19:00).

10 January 2016:
- Shillong Lajong vs. Mumbai (Nehru Stadium; 16:30).
- Sporting Goa vs. East Bengal (Fatorda Stadium; 16:30).

Bye: DSK Shivajians
munna219777rudraNagendramohammed_87hassangaffertapedeepakcdeepak dedhanikhilgoalkeepar7negiand 12 others.


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