Teams jostle for promotion, as I-League Qualifiers draw near

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India]: With a couple of days to go for the start of the I-League Qualifiers 2021, nine teams from as many states from across the country are gearing up for the tournament that could potentially grant them promotion to the I-League.
The I-League Qualifiers are set to get underway on Monday with Rajasthan United taking on Ryntih SC at the Bangalore Football Stadium in Bengaluru, Karnataka. The match kicks off at 3.45 PM IST. The I-League Qualifiers 2021 marks a return to football for one of India’s most celebrated midfielders in the past decade, Mehtab Hossain, who will be returning to the football pitch after retiring two years ago. The veteran midfielder, who has 33 International caps for India, will join Madan Maharaj FC of Madhya Pradesh as a player-mentor.
Delhi FC has been preparing for the HILQ for a few months now and one of their key players, Anwar Ali, is positive about their chances in the competition. “We have been prepared for the HILQ for the last three months. That has been our target, to go step by step. First we played the state league, now the HILQ, and then the I-League. We got to play the Durand Cup in between, which was great for us, as we got to play a lot of good matches. It’s a very positive atmosphere that we have in the camp. I think we are fully prepared for the tournament.”
Coming to FC Bengaluru United, captain Dharmaraj Ravanan is also positive going into the I-League Qualifiers. “We have been preparing for the I-League Qualifiers for the past two months, including competitive games like we played in the Durand Cup. It is always good to play some competitive matches, and we feel like we are ready for the I-League Qualifiers now,” Ravanan said.
The club hailing from Mumbai, Kenkre FC have set their sights firmly on promotion to the I-League. Lester Fernandes, one of the most experienced heads in the dressing room, said, “It is very important for a city like Mumbai to have a football team in the I-League. Mumbai has a huge fan-base and a vast pool of talent, and promotion to the I-League will help us develop our younger players further.”
Kerala United FC is on a mission to give their fans something more to cheer about. Muhammed Noufal stated, “With Gokulam Kerala already playing in the I-League, we want to join them as well. It is an attempt to increase our state’s representation in the higher echelons of football in India.”

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