The fifth season of the league i.e 2012 second division I-League will kick-off with three preliminary group league matches at Delhi, Silchar (Assam) and Cuttack from February 1.
The I-League 2nd division will be played in two phases – the preliminaries and the final phase. The prelims would be played in in 3 different locations North, northeast and west India – Delhi, Cuttack and Silchar. The final phase would be played in Siliguri and Gangtok.
The group stage matches will played at the Yashwant Stadium (Nagpur), Ambedkar Stadium (New Delhi) and the Satindra Mohan Dev Stadium (Assam).
The league serves as the second top tier of Indian Football. In a meeting held earlier this month, the budget for I-League was increased by 2 crore.
A total of 23 teams have been divided into three groups. The Silchar leg will have seven teams while the Delhi and Cuttack legs will have eight teams each. ONGC, which was relegated last year from the I-League, will join from the final stages.
Group 1 (Silchar): Green Valley (Assam), Eagles FC (Kerala), Southern Samity (Kolkata), Bhawanipore FC (Kolkata), United Sikkim FC (Sikkim), Ar-Hima (Meghalaya), Aizwal FC ( Mizoram). The first match of Group 1 is on Wednesday 01/02/12. Ar-Hima will face Aizawl and Southern Samity will meet Eagles tomorrow. United Sikkim will play Bhawanipore on February 2. The other matches of United Sikkim are on 07/02/12 against Green Valley , on 10/02/12 against Southern Samity and on 16/02/12 against Aizawl.
The eight teams of Group 2 are Royal Wahingdoh FC (Meghalaya), Sesa Academy (Goa), Quartz SC (Kerala), Kalighat MS (Kolkata), Aryan Club (Kolkata), Guwahati Town Club (Assam), Kenkre FC (Mumbai),Samaleswari (Odisha).
The eight teams of Group 3 are Langsing FC (Meghalaya), Mohammedan Sporting (Kolkata), Shimla Youngs (Delhi), KGF Academy (Bangalore), Golden Threads (Kerala), PIFA Colaba (Mumbai), Vasco (Goa), Luangmual (Mizoram).
United Sikkim FC is a clear favourite in Group 1. United Sikkim played five matched in the 2011 season of which it won one match, drew 2 and lost 2.
Royal Wahingdoh SC (Shillong) will be the team to beat in Group 2 at Cuttack and Mohammedan Sporting and Vasco SC are the two teams to watch out for in Group 3 to be played at Delhi. Royal Wahingdoh will play their first match on February 1 against Samaleswari. Mohammedan will and Vasco SC will also play their first match against KGF Academy and PIFA Colaba on February 1 itself.