New Delhi: Newly-crowned I-League champions Minerva Punjab FC will take on Indian Super League side Jamshedpur FC on April 2 in the inaugural Super Cup football tournament which begins in Bhubaneswar on March 31.
Former I-League champions Aizawl FC will play ISL side Chennaiyin FC in the inaugural match at the Kalinga Stadium, according to the fixture announced after the draw ceremony of the main round of at the All India Football Federation headquarters here.
This season's ISL finalist side Bengaluru FC, Kolkata heavyweights Mohun Bagan and East Bengal play against teams which will come through a qualifying play-off round to be played at the same stadium on March 15 and 16.
Bengaluru face the winner of the match (Qualifier 2) between NorthEast United and and Gokulam Kerala on April 1. Mohun Bagan play the winner of the match (Qualifier 1) between Delhi Dynamos FC and Churchill Brothers. East Bengal face the winner of the match (Qualifier 3) between Mumbai City FC and Indian Arrows.
All the 20 clubs playing in the ISL and I-League will participate in the Super Cup. The clubs placed between seventh and 10th places in the I-League and ISL will play a single leg qualifier to earn a spot in in the final phase of the tournament.
The winners of the four qualifier matches will join the top six ISL and I-League clubs in the final phase of the tournament.
"Till last year, the premier knock-out tournament was the Federation Cup. This Super Cup is a new concept. We wanted to include all the teams from the I-League as well as ISL so that the tournament is more interesting and more competitive," AIFF Senior Vice-President Subrata Dutta said after the draw ceremony.
The quarterfinal round will be played on March 7, 10, 11, 12 and 13 but the schedule of these matches will be announced later in view of the AFC Cup match in Guwahati between Bengaluru FC and Aizawl FC on April 5.
The two semifinals will be played on April 16 and 17 while the final match will be held on April 20.
But there is not much at stake as the winners of this tournament will not get any automatic or play-off slot in the AFC Cup.
"The winners of this tournament will not get any slot in the AFC Cup. As of now, the rule is that I-League winners (Minerva Punjab this time) will play in the AFC Champions League play-off stage. If Minerva fail to advance to the group stage of the AFC Champions League, they will play in the AFC Cup," AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das said.
"There is another slot for the ISL champion side which will play in the preliminary round of the AFC Cup to be able to play in the main round," he added.
He said with India's FIFA rankings on the upward swing, the AFC may grant three slots for the country in the AFC Cup and by then Super Cup winners may get the third slot.
Inaugural Super Cup Fixture:
QF 1: Delhi Dynamos FC vs Churchill Brothers (5pm)
QF 2: North East United FC vs Gokulam Kerala FC (8pm).
QF 3: Chennaiyin City FC vs Indian Arrows (5pm).
QF 4: ATK vs Chennai City FC (8pm)
March 31: Aizawl FC vs Chennaiyin FC
April 1: Mohun Bagan vs QF 1; Bengaluru FC vs QF 2
April 2: Minerva Punjab vs Jamshedpur FC
April 3: FC Goa vs QF 4
April 4: FC Pune City vs Shillong Lajong
April 5: East Bengal vs QF 3
April 6: Neroca FC vs Kerala Blasters.