Indian football team coach Stephen Constantine believes that the Federation Cup is an important platform for the players to showcase their talent and get recognised. The coach has already handed debuts to 23 players after taking charge of the Indian national team for the second time.
Udanta Singh, who became the latest debutant under Constantine will be in action for Bengaluru FC in the opening match of the tournament as the Hero I-League and defending champions of Federation Cup 2015-16 take on Aizawl FC, who were relegated from I-League on the last day of the 2015-16 season.
In the tournament starting Saturday, the top eight teams as per the final standings of the I-League would be locking horns with the event being played on a home and away basis.
However, the higher ranked teams (as per the final standings of the I-League) would have the privilege of playing their home matches later in the return leg.
Constantine mentioned that the Federation Cup gives him “more opportunity to look at players”.
“The Federation Cup gives us the opportunity to look at more players whom we have been following very closely. With the format being home and away, I expect it to be very interesting,” he said.
AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said that he expects the “Federation Cup to be as competitive as the I-League”.
“Despite the I-League having lesser teams this season there has been a substantial increase in viewership—both in TV audience and spectators on the ground. The league was very competitive and I expect the Federation Cup to generate the same level of interest and competition.”
He added, “The AIFF were looking to bring in a more relevant format for the tournament. Going forward we may make further changes to bring it more in line to a lot other Championships.”