aizawl fc
I-League champions Bengaluru FC have been drawn to play against Aizawl FC in the competition. Pictured: 2nd Division League 2015 champions Aizawl FC during an I-League match against Bengaluru FC at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Aizawl, earlier this season.Bengaluru FC

The I-League 2015-16 season may have ended, but the Indian football fans still have reasons to cheer as the Federation Cup 2016 is here. The top eight teams from the domestic league this season, according to the final standings, will participate in the tournament, beginning Saturday.

There will be a total of 13 games in the competition, which will have a knockout format this time around. The matches, including the two rounds and four semifinals, will be played on a home and away basis. The final, meanwhile, will be played at a neutral venue.

"As per the regulations of the tournament, the lower ranked teams (as per the standings of the Hero I-League) are to play their home match first," stated an All Indian Football Federation (AIFF) release. "Round One is scheduled to be played on April 30, May 1 and May 2; while Round 2 will be played on May 3, 4 and 5, 2016.

"The first round of the semifinals is to be played on May 7 and May 8 with the return legs slated for May 14 and 15."

Aizawl FC, who have been relegated from the I-League this season, will however be a part of the tournament since they stood eighth in the nine-member I-League. DSK Shivajians had stood ninth in the league this time but they weren't demoted to the Second Division League as the Pune side were awarded a relegation immunity by the AIFF for three years.

Aizawl FC have been drawn to take on I-League champions Bengaluru FC over the two legs.

Indian national football team coach Stephen Constantine, who kept a close eye on the Indian players during the tenure of the I-League this season, is now looking forward to the 2016 Federation Cup in an effort to discover more talents.

"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," said Constantine in another AIFF release.

Here is the full schedule of the matches:

Date Home team   Away team Time  Venue
Apr. 30 Aizawl FC v Bengaluru FC 3 pm Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Mizoram
May 1 Shillong Lajong v East Bengal 5 pm JLN Stadium, Shillong
May 1 Mumbai FC v Sporting Clube de Goa 7 pm Cooperage Stadium, Mumbai
May 2 Salgaocar FC v Mohun Bagan 4:30 pm Tilak Maidan, Goa
May 3 Bengaluru FC v Aizawl FC 7 pm Kanteerava Stadium, Bangalore
May 4 East Bengal  v Shillong Lajong FC 7 pm Barasat Stadium, West Bengal
May 4 Sporting Clube de Goa v Mumbai FC 4:30 pm Tilak Maidan, Goa
May 5 Mohun Bagan v Salgaocar FC 7 pm Barasat Stadium, West Bengal
May 8 Mohun Bagan v Shillong Lajong TBD Barasat Stadium, West Bengal
May 10 Aizawl FC v Sporting Clube de Goa TBD Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Mizoram
May 14 Shillong Lajong v Mohun Bagan TBD JLN Stadium, Shillong
May 15 Sporting Clube de Goa v Aizawl FC TBD Tilak Maidan, Goa
May 21 Mohun Bagan v Aizawl FC TBD TBD
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