Indian Super League, I-League to start in October, Says AIFF interim secretary Sunando Dhar 

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Kolkata: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) breathed a sigh of relief after FIFA lifted its suspension on the sport’s governing body as the Indian men’s football team can now focus on their upcoming international friendlies against Vietnam and Singapore.

“After the suspension have been remove by FIFA, Indian football is looking forward to return on their own place and will be on track with more events,” AIFF interim general secretary Sunando Dhar told Sportslight Media after the Kolkata derby in Durand Cup 2022 on Sunday.

“The men’s senior football team will be playing against Singapore and Vietnam in the last week of September. AIFF will be sending the written proposal shortly to both country’s football federation,” he added.

The AIFF also revealed the dates of upcoming editions of the Indian Super League and I-League. “The Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season is about to start from October 7. Whereas, the I-League 2022-23 will commence from October 22,” Dhar informed.

“No new teams will be introduced in the league, and none have been qualified for Indian Super League as well. The 2nd division qualifications of I-League teams into 1st division tournament will start from December and the winner will play from next season.”

The lifting of suspension by FIFA also meant that ATK Mohun Bagan will be able to play in the knockouts of AFC Championship next month. Dhar also apologized on behalf of AIFF to Gokulam Kerela as they had to return without playing even a single game AFC Women’s Club Championship from Tashkent due to the FIFA suspension.

“It’s of utter shame being an Indian citizen and associated with AIFF we have to face the suspension for 11 days. This made a huge impact on us, the national teams and clubs. Specifically, Gokulam Kerala women.

“I on behalf of the AIFF deeply apologize and feel sorry for the team who have traced such a struggling pathetic and qualified to the AFC Women’s Club Championship,” he said. With football coming back to normal after two years, the love and affection for the game is spot on.

“I’m happy that football have returned to it’s basic. We have seen fans coming to support their team in Imphal derby (in Durand Cup 2022) – TRAU FC vs Neroca FC as well. This is a sign of hope for ISL and I-League committee as well,” Dhar said.

Keeping in mind of the current aspect and the response from the fans, it is expected that ISL and I-League won’t be in a bio-bubble for the third straight season. “The players had been training in the bio-bubble for the past couple of years. Fans’ chanting is something they crave for. Fans coming in the field and cheering for them is a hope for them,” Dhar signed off.

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