India has become a stronghold of football in Asia. A lot of credit goes to I-League 2nd Division for providing a platform to young Indian footballers.
I-League 2nd Division
The Birth of the I-League 2nd Division
The I-League 2nd Division was previously known as the National Football League 2nd Division. It was launched in the year 2008 under the Asian Football Confederation. The winners of the I-League 2nd Division were promoted to the I-League. However, constant changes in the format has disinterested the viewers.
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The Passion and Excitement Around The I-League 2nd Division
Football brings passion and excitement to the field as well as to the fans. The I-League 2nd Division has some of the most exciting and passionate moments in the history of Indian football. In the 2009 season, four teams were promoted to the senior league which is still seen as a historical moment.
The Inaugural Season of the I-League 2nd Division
The first season of the I-League 2nd Division contributed a lot to the promotion of state football. The top four groups from the final standings qualified for the promotion to I-League. Pune and Kolhapur were chosen grounds for the entire season.
The Success of the I-League 2nd Division
With the growing popularity of the tournament, viewers increased. A new audience emerged with clubs finding their local fan base. The promotion was in every team's curriculum and that's what made the tournament a big success.
Format of the I-League 2nd Division
From the 2008 to 2015 season, the season had 12 teams and matches were played at neutral venues. In 2016, home and away matches were introduced. In the 2017-18 season, preliminary and final stages were designed to include reserve teams of the I-League.
Summary of the I-League 2nd Division
There were 12 participants in this season and four of them qualified for first division football.
Winner - Mumbai FC
Top Goalscorer- Fredrick Okwagbe (6)
In this season, 3 groups were formed with 5 teams each. A total of 45 matches were played combining both group stage and final rounds.
Winner - Salgaocar FC
Top goal scorer - Badmus Babatunde (6)
With the addition of 6 new teams, this tournament has 21 teams divided into three groups. A record of 193 goals was scored in a total of 63 matches.
Winner - ONGC
Top Goal Scorer - Badmus Babatund, India Joy Ferrao (4)
This season followed the same format as the previous one. The 21 teams scored a record 219 goals combined.
Winner - Shillong Lajong
Top goal scorer - Stanley Cyprian (6)
A total of 63 matches were played between 21 teams. United Sikkim and ONGC qualified for the top-tier league.
Winner - ONGC
Top goal scorer - Emmanuel Okoro (9)
21 teams were divided into three groups. The promoted teams were Rangdajied United and Mohammedan.
Winners - Rangdajied United
Top goal scorer - Badmus Babatunde, Hudson Lima Da Silva (8)
The 7th season of I-League Division 2 had 11 teams divided into two groups. United Sikkim entered directly into the final rounds.
Winner - Royal Wahingdoh
Top goal scorer - Daniel Bedemi
With 56 matches played in the season, teams scored 209 goals. Aizawl F.C. became the first team from Mizoram to qualify for the top tier.
Winner - Aizawl F.C.
Top goal scorer - Felix Chidi Odili Dempo, Atinder Mani (7)
12 teams divided into 4 groups participated in this tournament. 160 goals were scored in a total of 65 matches.
Winner - Dempo
Top goal scorer - Odafa Okolie (9)
With the addition of 6 new teams, 18 teams divided into 3 groups participated in this season. In a total of 95 matches, the 18 teams scored 274 goals.
Winner - NEROCA
Top goal scorer - Robert D‘Souza Ribiero (10)
This season took place from January to April 2019. In 81 matches, teams scored 253 goals.
Winner - Real Kashmir
Top Scorer - Phillip Adjah Tetteh, Princewill Emeka (10)
The 13th season began on 25 January 2020. In a total of 48 matches, teams scored 148 goals.
Winner - Mohammedan S.C.
Top goal scorer - Syed Shoaib Ahmed, Ekombong Victor Philip (7)
The 14th season of the I-League 2nd Division took place from 4 to 23 October. Surprisingly, only 22 matches were played and 57 goals were scored.
Winner - Rajasthan United
Top goal scorer - Anwar Ali Jr. (4)
The I-League 2nd Division Stats and Records
The ONGC is the only team to win the league twice in 2010 and 2012. The record for the highest-scoring match and biggest away win is held by Dempo SC (Dempo 8–0 PIFA). The record for biggest home win is held by Ozone FC (Ozone 7–0 Madhya Bharat).
I-League 2nd Division is the first professional platform that allows players from all over India to express their game. Furthermore, it also contributes to the ever growing popularity of football in India.