The Hero Indian League, is set to commence from 17th January 2015 and is expected to be bigger, better and more competitive, than before. After the brouhaha of Indian Super League, services will return to normal when Salgaocar take on Pune FC, in the opening fixture of the country’s elite footballing competition. The form of teams in the Federation Cup, is likely to linger through into the first round of the I-League, given that there was only a weeks gap between the two competitions. With the gala commencing soon, TheHardTackle takes a look at Five things to watch out for in the first round of the Indian League.

The Shillong Derby

The icing on I-League’ first round’ cake, is certainly the Shillong derby between Shillong Lajong and Royal Wahingdoh. The recently promoted Royals, impressed with their performances in the Federation Cup, and will hope to carry their form into the Shillong derby. Perhaps, everything went wrong for Shillong Lajong, in the Federation Cup. The Reds, finished bottom of Group B and tasted defeat in all their fixtures. Lajong, even failed to open their points tally in the Federation Cup. A simple case of a team running high on morale versus a team running on low spirits, the Shillong derby, is expected to be a test of character for both teams. While the Royals, would be hoping for win to elate their spirits, Lajong would be looking to rue their horrendous Federation Cup form and grab all three. Royals, are expected to depend on their fast paced style of play and rely on swift counter attacks, while Shillong Lajong would be looking to thwart this approach by committing men behind the ball.

Bengaluru FC – Dempo Clash in Federation Cup Final Rematch

When Dempo SC, take on Bengaluru FC, the match will be more than just about three points, the match will be about revenge. Bengaluru FC, defeated Dempo in the finals of the Federation Cup by a scoreline of 2-1, which was perhaps a failed impression of the game. A stellar Dempo side, dominated the finals, but failed to make the most of their goal scoring opportunities. With a replay of the Federation Cup finals at hand, Dempo would be hoping to rue their horrid form in front of goal and avenge their Federation Cup defeat. Meanwhile, Ashley Westwood’s whiteboard is bound to be congested. The I-League champions, would be looking to match the majestic feat last season, and will be hoping to defend their title. A rebellious Dempo, which stands in their way, makes a clever prey, capable enough of striking back. A fixture, arguably built around the best possible talents available in the county, is expected to be an eye candy of a game. With a cracker of a game at hand, this match, could be the match to watch, in the first round of Indian League.

Kolkata Duo Look To Start With A Win

Both, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, suffered at the hands of, perhaps better teams. The Bengali duo, failed to impress in any of their matches and dished out fluttery performances. With the I-League commencing, all eyes will be on East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, to resurrect themselves and deliver solid performances. While Mohun Bagan face fellow mid table compatriots Mumbai FC, East Bengal face a hefty Sporting Goa side. The attacking trio of Katsumi Yusa, Sonny Norde and Pierre Boya, are expected to pull strings for Mohun Bagan against Mumbai FC. The budding chemistry between Sonny Norde and Pierre Boya, could be the game changer for this match.

For East Bengal, there is a lot to ponder about. The red and gold brigade were pathetic in their Federation Cup performances and lacked a leading figure in their contingent. However, with the amount of talent at their disposal, the red and gold brigade could inspire themselves and strike back. But, given the stellar form of Sporting Goa, it rarely looks the case. However, it will be interesting to see how the Bengali teams, cope with the burden of horrid form. Weather they re surge back or succumb deep, seems a million dollar question, right now.

Durand Final Repeat As Pune – Salgaocar Clash

The philosophy of Karim Bencherifa, to build a team around young guns is pretty evident. The Red Lizards, although did not qualify for the latter stages of the Federation Cup, nearly gave winners Bengaluru FC , a run for their money, when they clashed swords in the group stages of the Federation Cup. The Red Lizards, clash swords against Salgaocar, and revenge will be on Bencherifa’s mind. In a highly combative and volatile Group B, Pune FC rammed heads against Salgaocar for the progressing into the latter stages of the Federation Cup. An impressive Salgaocar side defeated Pune FC, to progress into the next stage. However, when Salgaocar entertain Pune FC, a drastically improved Pune FC side could be witnessed, led by Luciano Sabrosa. Sabrosa, has been an anchor to Pune FC’s defense and his solid performances were evident in their Federation Cup campaign. The imposing defender, will be a force to reckon with for the Salgaocar attack. Salgaocar on the other hand have had a steady start to their season winning the Durand Cup and Goa Pro League. The Goan greens will once again rely on Douhou Pierre who scored four goals in the Federation Cup. The match also sees both coaches go against their former clubs. While Karim Bencherifa led Salgaocar to I-League glory , Pune FC under Derrick Periers, grew from the qualifiers to become a force to reckon with in the Indian Football

Schedule

17/01/2015 Salgaocar FC vs Pune FC

17/01/2015 Bengaluru FC vs Dempo Sports Club

18/01/2015 McDowell Mohun Bagan A C vs Mumbai FC

18/01/2015 Shillong Lajong FC vs Royal Wahingdoh

18/01/2015 Sporting Clube de Goa vs Kingfisher East Bengal