The All India Football Federation has included three new teams for the 35th Federation Cup which kicks off in Kerala on January 1.
The new teams will join the 13 I-League clubs in the championship which runs till January 12.
United Sikkim has been brought in to replace Mumbai Tigers which pulled out of the I-League a few months ago, while Bhawanipore FC and Langsning FC, which finished third and fourth in last year’s second division I-League, are the other new sides in the championship which is likely to be held in Malappuram (league phase) and Kochi (league phase and final phase).
Though the host State does not have a team in the Federation Cup, the Kerala Football Association has not given up hope of having Kochi’s Eagles FC — which has applied for a place in the upcoming second division I-League — in the championship.
“I had given a request, and the committee is going to meet on November 10 or 11 to decide on it,” said K.M.I. Mather, the KFA president and AIFF vice-president, from Dubai on Monday evening.
The FIFA under-17 World Cup is currently on in the UAE, and Mather is representing the AIFF at the championship.
Kerala is one of the States keen to host the 2017 under-17 World Cup if the FIFA offers it to India.
The Federation Cup groupings: Group A: Churchill Brothers SC, United SC, Pune FC, Langsning FC. Group B: Sporting Clube de Goa, Kingfisher East Bengal, Bengaluru FC, Rangdajied United FC. Group C: Salgaocar FC, McDowell’s Mohun Bagan AC, Mumbai FC, Shillong Lajong FC. Group D: Dempo SC, Mohammedan SC, United Sikkim FC, Bhawanipore FC.
The schedule: January 1-8: League matches in all four groups (group toppers qualify for semifinals). January 10: Semifinals: Group A winner v Group C winner; Group B winner v Group D winner. January 12: Final.