New Delhi: Bengaluru FC will begin their I-League title defence with a match against Shillong Lajong at home at Kanteerava Stadium in the inaugural game of the new season on January 7.
On the same day, Kolkata's East Bengal face Aizawl FC at the Barasat Stadium as the I-League today issued fixtures for the first phase (nine rounds) matches. Ten teams are taking part in the 2016-17 I-League season.
Former champions Mohun Bagan play their opening match at home (Rabindra Sarobar Stadium) on January 8 against Churchill Brothers, while Mumbai FC and Chennai City FC take on DSK Shivajians and Minerva Punjab FC respectively on the same day.
Churchill, one of the clubs dumped out of I-League in 2014 for failing to fulfill stringent club licensing criteria, returned to the top division after missing out two seasons.
Chennai City FC and Minerva Punjab FC are making their I-League debuts after the AIFF drafted the two sides after a bidding process.
Bengaluru FC will travel to Jordan for their preliminary stage 2 match of the AFC Champions League against Al Wehdat on January 31. But, Alberto Roca-coached side will get just three days to prepare for this crucial match, that too including travel time, as they play Churchill in Goa in a fifth round I-League match on January 27.
Bengaluru FC had earned the right to play in the qualifying round of the AFC Champions League -- the top level club competition of the continent -- after finishing runners-up in AFC Cup, Asia's second tier club competition, a first by an Indian side.
On the other hand, Mohun Bagan, who finished second in I-League last season, play their AFC Cup match on January 31 but that will be seven days after taking on DSK Shivajians in their fifth round I-League match in Pune.