The Indian domestic football season will begin with the I-League Qualifiers 2021, which will be played at the Bangalore Football Stadium from October.
Ten teams will represent as many states in the qualifiers, to be conducted in a centrally-organised bio bubble in Bengaluru. Only five teams played in the qualifiers last year.
Seven teams from seven states and territories will make their debut in the I-League qualifiers – Hyderya Sports FC (Jammu & Kashmir), Corbett FC (Uttarakhand), Delhi FC (Delhi), Madan Maharaj FC (Madhya Pradesh), Rajasthan United FC (Rajasthan), Kerala United FC (Kerala) and Ryntih SC (Meghalaya).
ARA FC (Gujarat), Kenkre FC (Maharashtra), and FC Bengaluru United (Karnataka), who have played in the I-League Qualifiers before, complete the 10-team line-up for the tournament.
The 10 participating clubs have all been nominated by their respective state football associations.
The clubs will be divided into two groups of five teams each. There will be a round-robin group stage, with every team playing the others in the group once.
The top two teams from each group will proceed to the final round, which will also be conducted in round-robin format, with the four teams playing each other once.
The top team at the end of the final round will go through to the I-League 2021-22 season.
A total of 26 games will be played in the I-League qualifiers, with 20 in the group stage and six in the final round.
I-League Qualifiers 2021 teams: Hyderya Sports FC (Jammu & Kashmir), Corbett FC (Uttarakhand), Delhi FC (Delhi), Madan Maharaj FC (Madhya Pradesh), Rajasthan United FC (Rajasthan), ARA FC (Gujarat), Kenkre FC (Maharashtra), FC Bengaluru United (Karnataka), Kerala United FC (Kerala), Ryntih SC (Meghalaya)