Indian Football
16 tournaments, 11,000 players: A hectic 2023-24 domestic season with class and character
18 Jun 2024

AIFF Media Team

NEW DELHI: The 2023-24 Indian football season saw 16 different domestic competitions organised by the AIFF, ranging from leagues, cups, national championships, and club and state tournaments, for both men and women. More than 11,000 players participated in the 2023-24 Indian football season, in which 1,532 matches were played.

The 2023-24 I-League season, consisting of 13 teams, ran from October 28, 2023 to April 13, 2024, with Mohammedan Sporting Club dominantly emerging as champions, amassing 52 points from 24 games to win promotion to the Indian Super League, subject to fulfilling club licensing criteria. Sreenidi Deccan FC ended up runners-up for the second season in a row, while Imphal sides TRAU FC and NEROCA FC were relegated after finishing in the bottom two. Gokulam Kerala FC's Alex Sanchez was the top scorer with 19 goals.

I-League 2
The I-League 2 was held in a pan-India home-and-away format, with eight teams vying for two spots in next season's I-League. In the league lasting from January 20, 2024, until April 27, 2024, Sporting Club Bengaluru were crowned champions and were promoted to the second tier for the first time, while runners-up Dempo SC returned to the I-League after nine years. Mumbai sides Maharashtra Oranje FC and Mumbai Kenkre FC finished seventh and eighth, respectively, and were relegated from the I-League 2. Thomyo L Shimray of SC Bengaluru and Sahil Harijan of United SC were the top scorers with 11 goals each.

Sporting Club Bengaluru, 2023-24 I-League 2 Champions

I-League 3
Held for the first time ever, the I-League 3 was organised as a qualifier tournament for I-League 2, with 25 clubs competing for three spots. The group stage was played in a centralised venue in a single round-robin format, with five group winners qualifying for the I-League 3 Play-offs in Goa. Sporting Clube de Goa emerged as the inaugural I-League 3 champions and were joined by Dempo SC and Sporting Club Bengaluru in the I-League 2.

Kalinga Super Cup
The Kalinga Super Cup was played in Bhubaneswar in January 2024 between 17 teams from the Indian Super League and the I-League. In the final round, 16 teams were divided into four groups of four each. The group winners (East Bengal FC, Jamshedpur FC, Mumbai City FC and Odisha FC) qualified for the semi-final. East Bengal became the Kalinga Super Cup 2024 champions, ending their 12-year wait for a national trophy, with a 3-2 extra-time win over Odisha FC in Bhubaneswar. The Red and Gold Brigade thus also qualified for the 2024-25 AFC Champions League 2 Preliminary Round.

Kalinga Super Cup 2024

Indian Women's League
For the first time in history, the IWL was held in a home-and-away format. Seven clubs battled for the title from December 8, 2023 to March 24, 2024, with Odisha FC sealing their first crown by ending Gokulam Kerala's dominance. The Kalinga Warriors also qualified for the 2024-25 AFC Women's Champions League. Fazila Ikwaput of Gokulam Kerala was the top scorer with 13 goals.

Indian Women's League 2
The Indian women's football pyramid was expanded into two tiers for the first time as well. 15 clubs battled it out in the IWL 2 to earn two spots in next season's IWL. The group stage was held in a centralised format, with five teams in three groups each. The final round, consisting of six teams, took place in Mapusa, where Sreebhumi FC emerged as champions. The Kolkata side will be joined by runners-up Nita FA in the 2024-25 IWL.

Odisha FC, 2023-24 IWL Champions

AIFF Youth Leagues
The 2023-24 season saw three Youth Leagues conducted by the AIFF - the U-17 Youth League, the Junior League and the Sub-Junior League.

The AIFF U-17 Youth League began in December 2023 and was contested by 54 teams. In the final round held in Goa, Manipur's Classic Football Academy clinched the title, beating Sudeva Delhi FC 2-1 in the final on May 25, 2024.

The AIFF Junior League kicked off in March 2024, with 49 teams battling it out for the title. Reliance Foundation Young Champs won the title after beating Football 4 Change Academy on penalties in the final on May 25, 2024 in Amritsar.

The Sub Junior League began in February 2024 and was contested by 50 teams. In the final round held in Bhubaneswar, Minerva Academy FC defeated Bengaluru FC 7-4 to win the title on May 24, 2024.

77th Senior Men's National Football Championship for Santosh Trophy
The final round of the 77th edition of the Santosh Trophy was organised in Arunachal Pradesh for the first time, where Services won the title after beating Goa 1-0 in the final on March 9, 2024, in Yupia. A total of 35 teams contested the group stage held in centralised venues. The final round saw 12 teams divided into two groups of six, with the top four progressing to the quarter-finals. Services won their seventh title. Phijam Sanathoi Meitei of Manipur was the top-scorer with 11 goals.

Services, 2023-24 Santosh Trophy Champions

28th Senior Women's National Football Championship for Rajmata Jijabai Trophy
Manipur regained their dominance in the domestic women's football scene as they won their record-extending 22nd Rajmata Jijabai Trophy, beating Haryana 2-0 in the final on May 15, 2024, in Kolkata. Akin to the Santosh Trophy, the group stage was held in centralised venues and the final round had 12 teams divided into two groups of six. The top two from each group made it into the semi-final. Yumnam Kamala Devi of Railways and Ngangom Bala Devi of Manipur were the joint top scorers with 18 goals each.

Swami Vivekananda Men's U-20 National Football Championship
For the first time ever a Men's NFC was held for the U20 age category. Organised in Narainpur in Chhattisgarh, Delhi emerged champions among 32 teams participating in the 40-day tournament lasting from April 12, 2024 to May 20, 2024. The capital side beat Karnataka on penalties in the final to end a 59-year national title drought.

Bala Devi, 2023-24 Rajmata Jijabai Trophy MVP

Junior Boys' National Football Championship for Dr. BC Roy Trophy
The Junior Boys' NFC for Dr BC Roy Trophy was organised in two tiers. The tier 1 was held in Bhubaneswar, where Uttar Pradesh were crowned champions out of 16 teams. The tier 2 saw 20 teams compete, with Delhi winning the title in Jabalpur.

Sub Junior Boys' National Football Championship
In the tier 1 of the Sub Junior Boys' NFC held in Malda and Berhampore, Mizoram beat Manipur to win the trophy, while Bihar defeated Delhi for the tier 2 title in Ananthapuram.

Junior Girls' National Football Championship
The Junior Girls' NFC had 16 teams each in both tiers. Manipur beat Tamil Nadu in the tier 1 final in Bhubaneswar, while Goa beat Andhra Pradesh for the tier 2 crown in Jaipur.

Sub Junior Girls' National Football Championship
The Sub Junior Girls' NFC consisted of 16 teams in tier 1 and 12 in tier 2. Jharkhand triumphed over West Bengal in the tier 1 final in Amritsar, while Karnataka beat Delhi for the tier 2 crown in Belgaum.

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