I-League 2nd Division

The I-League 2nd Division (or Hero 2nd division for sponsorship ties with Hero MotoCorp) is an Indian men's professional football league.[1] It is the 3rd tier of Indian football behind Indian Super League and I-League. It operates as a system of promotion with I-League (final qualifying phase of state leagues teams). In 2020, due to COVID-19 pandemic in India, the league format was changed into I-League Qualifiers.

I-League 2nd Division
I-League 2nd Division Logo 2015.png
Organising bodyAll India Football Federation (AIFF)
Founded1997; 25 years ago (1997) (as NFL Second Division)
2008; 14 years ago (2008) (as I-League 2nd Division)
Number of teams16
Level on pyramid3
Promotion toI-League
Relegation toState football leagues
Current championsRajasthan United (1st title)
TV partners1Sports (including Facebook live streaming)
Current: 2022–23

The 2nd Division league was introduced from the 2008 season, having been previously known as the National Football League 2nd Division. State FA's nominate teams who have finished in the top of their respective state leagues, which are later to be approved by AIFF to participate in the consequent qualifiers.


I-League 2nd Division was introduced during the 2008 season, with first game played on 25 March between Mohammedan Sporting and Amity United.[2]

That season saw Mohammedan, Mumbai, Vasco and Chirag United are promoted to I-League. The next season saw Pune, Shillong Lajong, Viva Kerala and Salgaocar getting promoted.

Since 2010, only top 2 teams were promoted to I-League. ONGC and HAL in that year, in 2011 Shillong Lajong and Sporting Clube de Goa, with Lajong being promoted for the second time, while in 2012 ONGC and United Sikkim were promoted for upcoming season. The 2013 season saw Rangdajied United FC and Mohammedan qualifying for I-League.

In 2014, only one team got promoted from the 2nd Division, and similarly only one team got relegated from 2013–14 season.

In 2016, again only one team was promoted from the 2nd division (Aizawl F.C.), and only one was relegated from I-League (Dempo).

Due to the covid pandemic, the traditional final round format was scrapped in 2020. It was decided that the league will be rescheduled into a new format and all non-reserve teams from the preliminary stage will automatically progress to this round. It was officially named as I-League Qualifiers.[3]

I-League Qualifiers logo

Competition formatEdit


Previously, the league was formatted as a neutral venue competition with teams split into groups in which all the groups play in one stadium each. The final round is contested in a double round-robin format, after which the top two teams get promoted to the I-League.


The I-League core committee approved the plans for the 2015–2016 I-League 2nd division matches to be played on a home and away basis. The preliminary rounds will be played as the conference system with the teams being divided into Eastern and Western conferences. Top 3 teams from each conference will qualify for the final round of the 2015–2016 season of 2nd division I-League.[4]

To widen the football map of the country and to bolster the football structure, I-League committee decide to launch the 2nd division qualifier for 2016–2017 season. Participants from all the state associations would be invited to take part in 2nd division 2016–17 qualifiers. The state associations need to nominate two teams with best results, apart from the teams who would compete in Hero I-League and 2nd division league, from the state leagues to compete in the 2nd division qualifiers. The teams will fight it out amongst themselves in the zonal round followed by the final round. Eventually top two teams from the final round will get a nod to the 2nd division, provided that they fulfill the club licensing requirements in the due time.[5]


The format was further altered from 2017–2018 season, the league was divided in two stages: the Preliminary and the Final. The tournament will also feature reserve teams of Indian Super League clubs. In the preliminary stage, 18 teams are divided into three groups where all matches would be played on a home and away basis. The winners of each group plus the best second-placed team would qualify for the final round. However, if reserve teams of ISL clubs finishes as winners or runners-up in any group, the position is passed on onto the next non-ISL team. The final round will be played at a central venue, the winners of which would be promoted to the next tier of Indian Football.[6]


Sixteen teams were allowed to participate in this season by the league committee.[7]


Due to Covid 19 pandemic outbreak a new format was introduced named as I-league Qualifiers. 10 teams promoted from state leagues battling for I-league qualification in that knockout format.



Clubs participated in 2021 I-League 2nd Division:[8]

Team City/State Stadium Founded Capacity
ARA FC Ahmedabad, Gujarat EKA Arena 2016 22,000
Corbett FC Rudrapur, Uttarakhand Amenity Sport Academy Ground 2020 2,000
Delhi FC New Delhi, Delhi Ambedkar Stadium 1994 30,000
FC Bengaluru United Bengaluru, Karnataka Bangalore Football Stadium 2018 8,400
Kenkre FC Mumbai, Maharashtra Cooperage Ground 2000 5,000
Kerala United FC Malappuram, Kerala Malappuram District Sports Complex 1976 (rebranded in 2020) 30,000
Madan Maharaj FC Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh TT Nagar Stadium 1992 15,000
Rajasthan United FC Bhilwara, Rajasthan Rajasthan University Sports Complex 2018 6,000
Ryntih FC Shillong, Meghalaya Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (Shillong) 1998 30,000


Former clubsEdit

Clubs participated in previous seasons of I-League 2nd Division:

Club City/State Seasons Best finish Worst finish Current league
Aizawl F.C. Mizoram 2012 to 2015 Champions, 2015 Group-stage I-League
Amity United FC Haryana Defunct
AU Rajasthan FC Rajasthan 2019-20 Group-stage R-League A Division
BEML F.C. Karnataka Defunct
Bengal Mumbai FC Maharashtra Defunct
Bhawanipore FC West Bengal Calcutta Football League
Chandni FC Kerala 2008 to 2011 3rd in Group Stage,2008 Group stage Kozhikode District League
Chanmari FC Mizoram Mizoram Premier League
Chhinga Veng FC Mizoram 2018-19 2nd in Final round, 2018-19 Mizoram Premier League
Delhi United FC Delhi DSA Senior Division
Dempo SC Goa Goa Professional League
Denzong Boys FC Sikkim Defunct
DSK Shivajians Maharashtra Defunct
Eagles F.C. Kerala Kerala Premier League
Fateh Hyderabad Telangana Telangana Rahim League
FC Green Valley Assam Assam State Premier League
FC Kerala Kerala Kerala Premier League
Garhwal FC Delhi DSA Senior Division
Gangtok Himalayan S.C. Sikkim Sikkim Premier Division League
Gauhati Town Club Assam Youth League
George Telegraph S.C. Kolkata Calcutta Football League
Golden Threads FC Kerala Kerala Premier League
Guwahati FC Assam Youth League
HAL Karnataka Bangalore Super Division
Happy Entertainment Tamilnadu Defunct
Hindustan FC Delhi DSA Senior Division
Indian Bank Recreational Club Tamilnadu Chennai Football League
Indian National FC Delhi DSA Senior Division
JCB Bhilai Brothers FC Chhattisgarh Defunct
Josco FC Kerala Defunct
Kalighat Milan Sangha FC West Bengal Calcutta Football League
KGF Academy Karnataka Bangalore Super Division
Kohima Komets Nagaland Nagaland Premier League
Langsning SC Meghalaya Shillong Premier League
Lonestar Kashmir FC Jammu and Kashmir JKFA Professional League
Luangmual FC Mizoram Defunct
Madhya Bharat SC Madhya Pradesh Defunct
Malabar United FC Kerala Defunct
Minerva Punjab Punjab I-League
Mohammedan SC West Bengal I-league
MP United FC Madhya Pradesh Defunct
Mumbai Maharashtra Defunct
Mumbai Tigers FC Maharashtra Defunct
Mumbai United AC Maharashtra Mumbai Football League
NEROCA FC Manipur I-league
New Delhi Heroes FC Delhi Football Delhi Senior Division League
North Imphal Sporting Association Manipur Manipur State League
Oil India Ltd FC Assam
ONGC Maharashtra Mumbai Football League
Ozone FC Karnataka Bangalore Super Division
PIFA Sports Maharashtra Mumbai Football League
Pride Sports FC Madhya Pradesh Defunct
Pune Maharashtra Defunct
Quartz FC Kerala
Rainbow AC West Bengal Calcutta Football League
Rangdajied United Meghalaya Shillong Premier League
Rajasthan United Rajasthan 2021 Champions, 2021 I-League
Real Kashmir FC Jammu and Kashmir 2016–17 Champions, 2017-18 I-League
Royal Wahingdoh Meghalaya Defunct
Salgaocar Goa Goa Professional League
Samaleswari SC Odisha
SBI Kerala Kerala Defunct
Sesa Football Academy Goa Goa Professional League
Shillong Lajong Meghalaya Champions, 2011 Shillong Premier League
Simla Youngs FC Delhi Football Delhi Senior Division League
Southern Samity West Bengal Calcutta Football League
South United FC Karnataka Bangalore Super Division
Sporting Clube de Goa Goa Goa Professional League
Sudeva Moonlight Delhi I-League
Techno Aryan West Bengal Calcutta Football League
Titanium FC Kerala Defunct
TRAU FC Manipur 2017-18 to 2018-19 Champions, 2018-19 I-League
United SC West Bengal Calcutta Premier Division B
United Sikkim Sikkim Champions, 2012 Sikkim Premier Division League
Vasco Goa Goa Professional League
Viva Kerala Kerala Defunct

Relegated teams (from I-League to I-League 2nd Division)Edit

Season Clubs
2007–08 Viva Kerala, Salgaocar
2008–09 Mohammedan, Vasco
2009–10 Sporting Clube de Goa, Shillong Lajong
2010–11 JCT, ONGC
2011–12 Chirag United Kerala, HAL
2012–13 Air India, United Sikkim
2013–14 Mohammedan
2014–15 Dempo
2015–16 None[a]
2016–17 Mumbai
2017–18 None[b]
2018–19 Shillong Lajong
2019–20 None[c]
2020–21 None[d]
2021–22 Kenkre FC
  1. ^ Aizawl FC were relegated, but reinstated to I-League due to withdrawal of 3 Goan clubs.[10]
  2. ^ Churchill Brothers S.C. were relegated, but reinstated to I-League after the appeal.[11]
  3. ^ Aizawl FC were relegated, but reinstated to I-League after inclusion of two I-League to Indian Super League
  4. ^ NEROCA FC were relegated,but were reinstated by AIFF after the viewing the situation of COVID-19 pandemic in India.[12]

Sponsorship & media coverageEdit


From 2008 to 2011 the league was sponsored by Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and was named the ONGC I-League 2nd Division. ONGC was also the title sponsor of the I-League. In October 2011 ONGC was dropped as a sponsor.

Period Sponsor Tournament
2008—11 ONGC ONGC I-League 2nd Division
2011—2017 I-League 2nd Division
2017— Hero MotoCorp Hero I-League 2nd Division / I-League Qualifiers (since 2020)


Period TV telecast Online streaming
2007–2010 Zee Sports
2010–2017 Ten Action, Ten Sports DittoTV
2017–2019 - JioTV
2019– 1Sports Facebook, JioTV

Head coachesEdit

Current head coaches in the I-League 2nd Division
Nat. Name Club Appointed Time in charge
  Surinder Singh Delhi FC 2 January 2021 1 year, 180 days
  Caetano Pinho Corbett FC 29 November 2021 214 days
  Vivek Nagul ARA FC 27 January 2021 1 year, 155 days
  Amit Kumar Jaiswal Madan Maharaj FC 9 August 2021 326 days
  Wallamkupar Kharpran Ryntih FC 13 November 2021 230 days
  Akhil Kothari Kenkre 1 June 2021 1 year, 30 days
  Khalid Jamil FC Bengaluru United 19 January 2022 1 year, 163 days
  Bino George Kerala United FC 20 April 2021 1 year, 72 days
  Fransesc Bonet Rajasthan United 3 December 2021 210 days

Winning coachesEdit

Head coach Club Wins Winning years
  L. Nandakumar Singh Royal Wahingdoh, TRAU 2 2014, 2018–19
  Dave Booth Mumbai 1 2008
  Peter Vales Salgaocar 1 2009
  Caetano Pinho ONGC 2010
  Pradyum Reddy Shillong Lajong 2011
  Philippe De Ridder United Sikkim 2012–13
  Karsing Kurbah Rangdajied United 2013–14
  Hmingthana Zadeng Aizawl 2014–15
  Mauricio Afonso Dempo 2015–16
  Gift Raikhan NEROCA 2016–17
  David Robertson Real Kashmir 2017–18
  Yan Law
(sacked midway)
Mohammedan SC 2020
  Vikrant Sharma Rajasthan United 2021



Top scorersEdit

Season Top scorer Club Goals
2008   Fredrick Okwagbe HAL 6
2009   Badmus Babatunde Viva Kerala 6
2010   Badmus Babatunde ONGC 4
  Joy Ferrao Vasco
2011   Stanley Okoroigwe Techno Aryan 6
2012   Daniel Bedemi United Sikkim 11
2013   Badmus Babatunde Rangdajied United 8
  Hudson Lima Da Silva Bhawanipore
2014   Daniel Bedemi Bhawanipore 8
2015   Ajay Singh Mohammedan 11
2015–16   Felix Chidi Odili Dempo 7
  Atinder Mani Lonestar Kashmir
2016–17   Odafa Okolie Southern Samity 9
  Felix Chidi Odili NEROCA
2017–18   Robert de Souza Ribiero Ozone 10
2018–19   Phillip Adjah Mohammedan 10
  Princewill Emeka TRAU
2020   Syed Shoaib Ahmed ARA 7
  Ekombong Victor Philip Garhwal
2021   Anwar Ali jr Delhi FC 4


The trophyEdit

Prize moneyEdit

As updated on 28 February 2018[citation needed]

Champions 50 Lakhs
Runners-up 25 Lakhs
Matchday Subsidy 50 Thousand
Match winner 25 Thousand
Hero of the Match 12.5 Thousand

Season awardsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Hero I-League Qualifiers". www.the-aiff.com. Retrieved 4 September 2021.
  2. ^ I-League 2nd Division 2016-17 kolkatafootball.com. Retrieved 6 August 2021
  3. ^ "Hero I-League Qualifier 2020 to get underway on October 8 | Hero I-League". Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  4. ^ Abhishek Jain (26 August 2015). "Change in format for I-League 2nd division". Archived from the original on 27 August 2015. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 September 2015. Retrieved 4 September 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "AIFF LEAGUE COMMITTEE MEETS AT FOOTBALL HOUSE". 19 February 2018. Archived from the original on 19 February 2018. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  7. ^ "LEAGUE COMMITTEE MEETS AT AIFF HQ IN NEW DELHI". AIFF. 7 December 2018. Archived from the original on 9 December 2018. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  8. ^ "Hero Second Division". www.the-aiff.com. Retrieved 4 September 2021.
  9. ^ "I-League Qualifiers: FCBU, Kerala United among 10 teams picked by AIFF". Khel Now. 30 August 2021. Retrieved 4 September 2021.
  10. ^ "I-League 2016/17: Aizawl FC reinstated after getting relegated last season, Salgaocar FC opt out". sportskeeda.com. 26 September 2016. Archived from the original on 17 August 2018. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  11. ^ "AIFF reinstates Churchill Brothers in I-League". 20 September 2018. Archived from the original on 18 November 2019. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  12. ^ "AIFF likely to keep relegation on hold in I-League". The Times of India. 29 April 2021. Archived from the original on 6 May 2021. Retrieved 20 July 2021.