Reigning champions Odisha FC were on Monday clubbed with last edition runners-up Bengaluru FC in the same group for the Super Cup football tournament to be held in Bhubaneswar from January 9 to 28. Another Indian Super League side FC Goa and an I-League club (which will be known after qualifying play-off) will make up the four-team Group D, according to the group stage draw held in New Delhi. Odisha FC, which recently qualified for the AFC Cup inter-zone play-off semifinals, had beaten Bengaluru FC in the 2023 Super Cup final in Kozhikode, Kerala.
Kolkata rivals Mohun Bagan and East Bengal were also clubbed together in the same group.
The national team players from various clubs will, however, miss the whole or most part of Super Cup tournament as they will be playing in the AFC Asian Cup in Doha, beginning on January 12.
Sixteen teams (12 from ISL and four from I-League) will take part in the tournament and they will be divided into four groups of four teams each.
The top-ranked team from each group will progress to the semifinals. The winner of the final, to be played on January 28, will earn a ticket to the 2024-25 AFC Champions League 2.
Five I-League teams — Gokulam Kerala FC, Sreenidi Deccan FC, Shillong Lajong FC, Inter Kashi and Rajasthan United FC — confirmed their participation in the Super Cup. The top three of these four teams, as per the December 24 I-League standings, will qualify directly for the tournament.
The bottom two teams will play in a single-leg qualifying play-off on January 9 to determine the fourth and final I-League team in the group stage.
Group A consists of Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Hyderabad FC and the top-ranked I-League team, while Group B has Kerala Blasters, NorthEast United, Jamshedpur FC and second ranked I-League side.
Mumbai City, Chennaiyin FC, Punjab FC and the third ranked I-League club made up Group C.
The teams were divided into four pots, with the 12 ISL teams placed in pots 1-3, according to their points per match in the 2023-24 ISL as of December 17.
AIFF’s Acting Secretary General Satyanarayan M said, “One of the reasons we are conducting it (Super Cup) in January is because of the problems faced by the clubs when played in April last year.
“One of the major rules we amended is that the clubs can field all six foreigners in the playing eleven. Hopefully, it will help the clubs. The winners will also get a continental club competition slot. Best of luck to all the teams,” he added.
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