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India FA given benchmarks for Champions League qualification

The nation's new professional league, the I-League, recently ended its first season successfully.

Presently, two Indian clubs, East Bengal and Dempo, participate in the AFC Cup, a competition for 'developing' Asian nations.

With the Asian Champions League due to expand in 2009, there are hopes that I-league clubs may be able to enter the continental's showpiece club competition.

Vice-Chairman of the AFC Pro-League committee Tokuaki Suzuki, who is on a two day visit to India, laid down the conditions.

Mr. Suzuki was quoted saying by the AFC's official homepage: "The clubs in India will have to be legal as well as commercial entities; the I-League should be run by separate legal entity under the umbrella of AIFF and the crowd participation in the I-League will have to be increased substantially."

The AFC has laid 50 rules under 10 sections for a country to be eligible for the Champions League.

Speaking to, Mr. Henry Menezes, the general manager of Mumbai FC said, "The AIFF will have to be harsh on those who fail to meet the criteria set by the AFC."

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