The new format will see each side play at least 18 matches.
The Indian men’s team have been struggling to adopt the new system played by national coach Igor Stimac and with the federation and many I-League clubs at loggerheads against each other, there is very little to cherish as an Indian men’s football fan.
But, when we speak of the counterparts of Stimac’s team, the women’s national team have been the lone source of positivity for Indian football fans. The team that climbed six further places up to be at 57th position in the world rankings in July have been long undermined by the fans and the national federation.
But, after a strong display in the past couple of years, especially in the Olympic Qualifiers Round 2, The Women’s National Team have made it clear that they deserve more appreciation than what has been coming at their way. The team missed qualification for Round 3 merely based on goal-difference, after defeating Nepal and Indonesia and drawing 3-3 against Myanmar in their last match.
The federation hence has been forced to give the women what they have been longing for – a league with more teams and more playing time. The Indian Women’s League has already had three previous editions, of which the latest had 12 teams with the league finishing in just 19 days.
But, the revised format for this sason would have 24 teams, AIFF general secretary Kushal Das confirmed in an interview with the Times of India. The new format would mean that more playing time would be granted to the women who claim themselves to have better chances of playing the FIFA World Cup before their male counterparts.
“A new format is being planned by Doru Isac, the AIFF technical director, along with the league department. The idea is to expand the IWL to a 24-team league next season, where every team will play at least 18 matches,” AIFF general secretary Kushal Das told TOI.
The unfortunate exit of the Indian team from the Olympic Qualifiers was still the best performance of the Blue Tigresses. The team that has been delivering on all fronts for the past three years seems to have been peaking now.
“It’s very unlucky that we couldn’t make it to Round 3 of the Olympic Qualifiers on goal-difference. But, Round 2 was the best performance ever by any Indian women’s national team,” said former India footballer and AIFF national team director Abhishek Yadav.
The league extension wouldn’t be the only change for the benefit of the women’s football team but the general secretary has assured of more plans and steps to be taken in the near future to attain the short term goal of playing the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022.
“The AIFF’s short-term goal for women’s football is to qualify for AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022, as the qualifiers are scheduled to start next year. The long-term goal, at this moment, is to obtain a podium finish at the Asian Games 2026,” claimed Das