I-League 2nd Division division round two matches will begin on Monday, March 5, 2012. Today in the opening matches of the final league phase United Sikkim FC will take on Vasco SC at Siliguri, north Bengal. In another match ONGC will face Aizwal FC.
This is the fifth season of the I-League which kicked of on February 1. The I-League 2nd division have been played in two phases-the preliminaries and the final phase. The prelims were played in in 3 different locations North, northeast and west India – Delhi, Cuttack and Silchar. The final phase i.e. the phase beginning today would be played in Siliguri and Gangtok.
Bhaichung Bhutia’s United Sikkim will play three matches in this phase. The other two matches of United Sikkim are against ONGC on March 12 and opposite Kalighat on March 15.
United Sikkim finished second in their group behind Aizawl FC. However, two matches of USFC became controversial and many USFC players including Bhaichung Bhutia was banned from playing in a couple of matches.
USFC won three of the five matches in the preliminary round and drew one against Green Valley. It lost the match against Aizwal FC. Both the matches in which USFC didn’t win were marred by controversies. United’s 7-2 win over Quartz FC was possibly their best performance this season. For United Sikkim, Baba Thunde, Thoi Singh, Quinton Jacob, Govin Singh and Daniel Bidemi and ex-East Bengal coach Philipe De Ridder have been amid the goals.
In the final phase which will be played in two legs at two separate venues, a total of seven teams are in contention. They are Mohammedan Sporting, Kalighat MS (both from Bengal), Royal Wahingdoh (Meghalaya), United Sikkim, Vasco SC (Goa), Aizwal FC (Mizoram) and ONGC. ONGC is the only seeded side in the final stage.
The Siliguri phase will conclude on March 25 and the Gangtok phase will start on March 29 and conclude on April 17, according to fixtures released by the All India Football Federation.