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Eyeing U-17 WC, AIFF to hold first U-15 tourney next year

New Delhi: Aiming to prepare a strong squad for the Under-17 World Cup in 2017, the All India Football Federation today said that the inaugural edition of the proposed AIFF U-15 tournament for I-League clubs will be held next year.'

The first tournament will be a 16-team event, where besides the 10 I-League teams, four other academies and the two AIFF academies would be a part of it. In the first edition, 14 teams would be divided into two groups (of seven teams each) and the top three from each group would be joined by the two AIFF academies in the final round. It was also decided in the I-League and Federation Cup Committee meeting that the I-League will kick off on January 17 in Bengaluru.

"The intention of the tournament is to augment the talent for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup," AIFF general secretary Kushal Das stated. The schedule and venue of the championship will be decided keeping in mind the schedule of school examinations, and post discussions with sponsors Cola Cola and AIFF Marketing partners IMG-R.

It was unanimously decided that the registration of players for the under-15 tournament would be done centrally through the state associations and all ID cards would be issued by AIFF. No club would be allowed to register a player after the completion of the 11th round of I-League. It was informed that 75 I-League matches out of the total 110 would be telecast live by Ten Sports, the host broadcaster.

"In addition, we would also be streaming the matches," Prasenjit Basu, representing Ten Sports, said. AIFF will be discussing with its technical team whether a goalkeeping coach can be seated on the bench. I-League CEO Sunando Dhar strongly reiterated that AIFF would "be monitoring practice sessions of every club".

"None other than an A-Licence holder would be allowed to conduct practice sessions. As per the I-League regulations any Coach/Technical Director would not be allowed to sit on the bench or even enter the Dressing Room on the match day," he stated.

As per the release of players for the AFC U-22 Qualifiers slated to be held from March 23 to March 31, 2015, the clubs agreed to get back to the AIFF over the same. Dhar also said that the 2nd Division League would take place in two venues, which are to be finalised post inspection by AIFF.

The eight participating Clubs are Aizawl FC, Chanmari FC, United Sports Club, Mohammedan Sporting, PIFA Sports, Kenkre Sports, Hindustan FC and Lonestar Kashmir FC. It was decided that the U-19 I-League will kick-off in the second week of December. A R Khaleel, chairman, I-League and Federation Cup Committee, chaired the meeting which was held at the AIFF Headquarters here.

Besides Khaleel, Das and representatives from all I-League clubs, AIFF vice-president Subrata Dutta, Ankur Datta, deputy chairman of I-League committee and Dhar also attended the meeting. Anupam Dutta, CEO, Indian Super League and Prasenjit Basu from Ten Sports were also present as were Souter Vaz and ZA Thakur (both members).

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