NEW DELHI: Even as the memories of the Hero I-League stay afresh with Bengaluru FC having carried the coveted Trophy back to the Garden City, the Hero Federation Cup is all set to kick-off the day after (April 30, 2016).
The top eight Teams as per the final standings of the Hero I-League Cup would be locking horns with the Tournament being played on a Home and Away basis. However, the higher ranked Teams (as per the Final standings of the Hero I-League) would have the privilege of playing their Home matches later (in the return leg).
Speaking exclusively to www.the-aiff.com, AIFF General Secretary Mr. Kushal Das said that he expects the “Hero Federation Cup to be as competitive as the Hero I-League.”
“Despite the Hero I-League having lesser Teams this season there has been a substantial increase in viewership — both in TV audience and spectators on the ground. The League was very competitive and I expect the Hero Federation Cup to generate the same level of interest and competition,” he told @AIFFMedia, the Official Twitter handle of AIFF.
The Ball gets rolling with current Hero I-League Champions Bengaluru FC, also the defending champions, taking on Aizawl FC at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Aizawl on April 30, the kick-off of which is at 3pm.
National Coach Stephen Constantine mentioned that the Hero Federation Cup gives him “more opportunity to look at Players.”
“The Hero Federation Cup gives us the opportunity to look at more Players whom we have been following very closely. With the format being Home and Away, I expect it to be very interesting,” he said to www.the-aiff.com.
Mr. Das also highlighted about the present format of the Hero Federation Cup.
“The AIFF were looking to bring in a more relevant format for the Tournament. Going forward we may make further changes to bring it more in line to a lot other Championships,” he added.
Timings of Round 1 matches:
April 30: Aizawl FC vs Bengaluru FC (3pm in Aizawl).
May 1: Shillong Lajong FC vs Kingfisher East Bengal (5pm in Shillong).
May 1: Mumbai FC vs Sporting Clube de Goa (7pm in Mumbai).
May 2: Salgaocar FC vs Mohun Bagan (4.30pm in Goa).
Timings of Round 2 matches:
May 3: Bengaluru FC vs Aizawl FC (7pm in Bengaluru).
May 4: Kingfisher East Bengal vs Shillong Lajong FC (4.30pm in Barasat).
May 4: Sporting Clube de Goa vs Mumbai FC (4.30pm in Goa).
May 5: Mohun Bagan vs Salgaocar FC (7pm in Barasat).