Kolkata, Dec 20 (IANS) I-League champions Bengaluru FC will begin their title defence at home against north eastern side Shillong Lajong FC on the opening day on January 7, according to the football tournament’s fixtures released on Tuesday.
Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan and East Bengal begin their campaign at home.
East Bengal will host Aizawl FC on the opening day while Mohun Bagan entertain Churchill Brothers a day later.
Former champions Churchill are back in the I-League fold after a two year hiatus, Aizawl faced the ignominy of relegation last season but were allowed to play in the top division by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
Newly-inducted Minerva Punjab FC will travel to Chennai to play fellow debutants Chennai City FC on January 8.
The first Kolkata derby will be on February 12 where East Bengal will be the home team at the Kanchenjunga Stadium in Siliguri.
Mohun Bagan will be play their home matches at the Rabindra Sarovar Stadium, which was home to Indian Super League (ISL) champions Atletico de Kolkata (ATK).
The I-League will be a 10-team affair this season after Goa clubs Salgaocar, Sporting Clube de Goa and Dempo SC decided to pull out of the tournament citing lack of vision on the AIFF’s part after a proposed merger plan of ISL and I-League.