Aizawl FC, the first-ever football club from Mizoram to make it to the national stage, have got what they were due -- reinstatement to the I-League. The team defeated the likes of Mohun Bagan and East Bengal in their very first season in I-League and the Federation Cup.
They were relegated from the I-League earlier this year after coming seventh in the domestic league. Although DSK Shivajians, who finished eighth, should have been the one to be relegated according to league football rules, the Pune-based side enjoys immunity from relegation for three years.
Aizawl FC's relegation from the I-League was taken very disappointingly by the fans and it is thus fitting that the AIFF (All India Football Federation) came up with a solution at their Executive Meeting in Goa on Monday.
"Aizawl will be a part of the I-League. We are looking to promote teams from different regions in the I-League and that policy will always be maintained by the AIFF," said AIFF president Praful Patel in the meeting.
Indian football star Jeje Lalpekhlua, who currently plies his trade with Mohun Bagan and hails from Mizoram, welcomed his hometown club back in the top flight club football league of the nation. "Welcome back Aizawl FC for I-League 2016-2017," tweeted the 25-year-old forward.
Aizawl FC made further impact following their debut I-League season this year by knocking out defending champions Bengaluru FC out of the Federation Cup and going on to reach the final of the tournament.
Meanwhile, a total of nine teams, including Dempo FC and Sporting Clube de Goa, will be participating in the I-League 2016-17, starting January 7. Salgaocar FC have opted out of the competition.