New Delhi, Mar 30 (IANS): The All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Thursday conducted the draw and released the groupings for the upcoming Hero Indian Women's League (IWL) 2023, set to start on April 25.
Two-time winners Gokulam Kerala FC and East Bengal FC have been placed in Group A while last editiion's runner-up Sethu FC is in Group B along with Churchill Brothers and Odisha FC for the tournament which is its sixth season after the 2020-21 season was scrapped due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The inaugural edition started in 2016.
Among those present for the draw, which was held at the Football House in New Delhi, was the All India Football Federation Secretary General, Dr Shaji Prabhakaran, the AIFF informed in a report on its official website.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Prabhakaran said: "This season of the Hero IWL is like a qualification competition of a more competitive league that will come into effect in the next campaign.
"My best wishes to all the 16 teams, who will be part of the Hero IWL. We had a meeting with several clubs and all efforts have been made to create a holistic situation for the development and rapid growth of Indian women's football," he said.
The 2022-23 season of the top women's league will see a format change with 16 teams split into two groups. The top four teams from each group will qualify for the knockout stage, consisting of quarterfinals, semifinals and final. The top eight teams will also get direct slots in next season's Hero IWL, which will be played on a home-and-away basis.
Group A: Gokulam Kerala FC, Mata Rukmani FC, HOPS FC, Misaka United FC, Kahaani FC, East Bengal FC, Sports Odisha and Mumbai Knights FC.
Group B: Sethu FC, Kickstart FC, Celtic Queens FC, Eastern Sporting Union, CRPF FC, Churchill Brothers FCG, Lords FA Kochi and Odisha FC.