North, East, South, West: Indian Super League Season II preview
Second Season of ISL is going to be even more exciting says Mariadon Pathaw. He previews the 2nd season for Football News India.
The season one of the Indian Super League was a major success and surpassed the expectations. Who would have ever imagined such a huge turnout for the matches? Thanks to relentless marketing through traditional channels and Social media, crowd thronged each and every venue across the nation to back their teams. Another important factor was the celebrity owners from cricket and bollywood. They too played a part in wooing the crowd to the stadium. Excellent packaging from Star Sports helped the telecast being a hit on Television as well with millions tuning to watch the matches.
The buzz created by the league in the first season has helped it in grabbing the attention of sponsors for the second season. In terms of sponsorship, various brands have renewed their deals with the teams while some, after witnessing the huge success of season one, have entered the fray. Some of the brands associated with Indian Super League teams include HTC, McDowell’s, Garnier (NEUFC,; Fair and handsome, HRX (Pune city fc), Muthoot Pappachan Group, Prime Meridian (Kerala Blasters), Ozone group (Chennaiyin FC), and Ace Group (Mumbai City Fc)
In terms of revenues from sponsorship ISL made around Rs.55 crore last season and is expected to double for this year. Second season of ISL has attracted various new sponsors and official partners. Reports have appeared that Flipkart, HP Enterprise and Imperial Blue have signed on as official partners, DHL as the logistics partner and Volini as the official pain relief partner. Maruti Suzuki and Amul has renewed sponsorship with ISL. Apart from these, Pepsi is the official pouring partner, Puma the ball partner and Muthoot group the refereeing partner.
The preseason kicked off outside the country with only Kerala Blasters opting to train in India. The preparation for the season was carried out in countries such as South Africa, Dubai, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Spain and Turkey because of the lack of proper facilities in India. Football needs to evolve in the country.
Let us take a look of the player recruitment and most importantly, the marquee signings.
NEUFC lacked attacking masters in the first season and finished rock bottom. So, in order to enhance their goal scoring results, NEUFC has recruited Simao Sabrosa, a Portuguese international, as their marquee player. With the experience of Simao, I believe he will be the mastermind in mentoring the young lads of North east. Diomancy Kamara, a former Portsmouth, Fulham and West Brom Albion player will lead the line for the North East outfit.
Among the Indian Players, Aiborlang Khongjee is expected to cement his place at the defense along with Kondwani Mtonga. Rehenesh TP who had an outstanding season last time will have to compete for a spot between the posts with Bengaluru Fc’s L. Ralte and Gennaro Bracigliano. New recruits Sanju Pradhan and the talented Seityasen Singh will play an important role at the heart of midfield. Other players include Cedric Hengbart, Silas, Bruno Arias, Miguel Garcia, Nicolas Velez, Gennaro Bracigliano, Francis Dadzie, Boubacar Sanogo, Robin Gurung, Alen Deory, Boithang Haokip, Holicharan Narzary,Zohmingliana Ralte, Marlangki Suting, Raju Yumnam, Reagan Singh and Siam Hanghal.
The reigning Champions have Helder Postiga as their marquee player. This 33 year old Portuguese International will be lined up as a lone striker in the Playing XI and he knows exactly what is being asked of him. Singing the hardworking Ian Hume will be definite boost for the team. Syed Nabi had a forgettable season one and is all set for a new beginning. Denzil Franco, Josemi and Arnab Mondal were crucial for the champions last season and will be expected to repeat the same feat this season.
Josemi will lead the side after renewing his deal with the club. The other players in the ATK squad are Rino Anto, Kunzang Bhutia, Arata Izumi, Lalchchawnkima, Amrinder Singh, Valdo, Sameeh Doutie, Javi Lara, Juan Calatayud, Tiri, Jaime Martinez, Nallappan Mohanraj, Baljit Sahni, Nadong Bhutia, Seikh Raja, Sushil Singh, Clifford Miranda, Ofentse Nato, and Augustin Fernandes.
The first Indian player to score in the ISL, Balwant Singh, is a deadly threat up front and with the presence of the Indian International Forward, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Chennaiyin looks all set to showcase their Indian talent. Not to forget, Fikru Lamessa also joined Chennaiyin Fc! So imagine the situation where Balwant, Fikru, Jeje and the top scorer Elano all playing together in a 4-3-3 position, managed by the Italian legend Materazzi. Chennaiyin is all set to tear the defence of any team. Bernard Mendy with his unforgettable goal in the first season is a fan favourite.
Godwin Franco has been amazing during his stint with Royal Wahingdoh Fc and will be an important figure in the midfield. Karanjit Singh is expected to start between the posts while Manipuri Thoi Singh will be a force to reckon with in the midfield. The team comprises of Abhishek Das, Dhanachandra Singh, Harmanjot Khabra, Jayesh Rane, Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Apoula Bete, Alessandro Potenza, Manuele Blasi, Cristian Hidalgo, Eder Fernandes, Mailson Alves, Raphael Augusto, Bruno Pelissari, John Mendoza, Dhanpal Ganesh, Zakeer Mundampara, Lalhmangaihsanga, Justin Stephen and Nidhin Lal.
Kerala Blasters had an amazing first season with former England goal keeper David James as manager. In season 2, however KBFC will not have the services of David James. They have appointed English manager Peter Taylor to guide them. Former East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan will assist Peter Taylor. Michael Chopra is no longer part of the side and the team has a host of promising Indians in the line up like CK Vineeth, Mehtab Hossain, Shankar Sampangi, Cavin Lobo and Mohammed Rafi.
Carlos Marchena is the marquee player and is definitely the man to watch. In his career he has played for top Spanish clubs like Sevilla, Benfica, Valencia, Villareal and last played for La Liga side Deportivo La Coruna until the end of 2013-2014 season. Cavin Lobo who scored two important goals against FC Goa last season for the champions ATK will be an added advantage to this runners up side. Main man at the heart of defence will be Sandesh Jhingan who had a brilliant outing against Iran in the World Cup qualifiers. He has the potential to become the best defender in the country if he stays away from injury and become more consistent. Sandesh will retain his place in a back line that will also have Gurwinder Singh and englishman and former Newcastle United player Peter Ramage. KBFC conceded a paltry nine goals last season and they will look to continue the same trend this season as well. Other members in the team include Peter Carvalho, Sandip Nandy, Shilton Paul, Stephen Bywater, Rahul Beke, Ishfaq Ahmed, Josu, Ramandeep Singh, Saumik Dey, Chris Dagnall, Marcus Williams, Sanchez Watt, Antonio German, Bruno Perone, Victor Forcada, Joao Coimbra and Manandeep Singh
FC Goa’s coach Zico has brought in a lot of Brazilian talent to Goa for this season. They have some exciting Indian players too in the squad. Lucio, a World Cup winner with Brazil will be their marquee player. Zico, who also announced his candidacy for FIFA’s Head position, also have the likes of Jofre, Reinaldo and Gregory Arnolin in the team. Darryl Duffy,who has been brought in from the Goan I-league team Salgaocar has the experience of Indian football and knows what it takes to fire the team to victory. He along with Reinaldo, a former PSG player,could make a big impact this season.
Exciting Indian youngster Romeo Fernandes will look to replicate his exploits in the first season which earned a rather calamitous foreign move. Other Indian talents at Zico’s disposal are Joaquim Abranches, C Sabeeth, Debabrata Roy, Raju Gaikwad, Luis Barreto, Keenan Almeida, Nicolau Colaco, Denson Devadas, Laxmikant Kattimani, Narayan Das, Bikramjit Singh,Mandar Desai, Pronay Haldar, T Haokip and Victorino Fernandes.
Pune City FC has roped in two exciting players who were outstanding for their clubs in the 2014-2015 I-League season- Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Jackichand Singh.
Eugeneson Lyngdoh, the Shillong lad, who created history during the recent ISL auction is one of the best player in India at the moment, after having won the midfielder of the season award in the I-League. Ene is calm and cool and has already been praised by the Head Coach David Platt, a former Manchester City asst manager. Eugenson’s form will be very crucial for FC Pune City’s title ambitions. Besides Eugeneson in the midfield will be I-League’s player of the season Jackichand Singh who scored some amazing goals for Royal Wahingdoh FC.
Fc Pune city have a strong team with some big names in Yendrick Ruiz, Adrian Mutu, Tuncay Sanli and former Indian national team mainstays Lenny Rodrigues and Gouramangi Singh. Pune looks very strong as an attacking force. The team is composed of Arindam Bhattacharya, Dharamaraj Ravanan, Pritam Kotal, Israil Gurung, Manish Maithani, Fanai Lalrempuia, Govin Singh, Lalit Thapa, Sushanth Mathew, Bikash Jairu, Gurjinder Kumar, Wesley Verhoek, Kalu Uche, Tuncay Sanli, Didier Zakora, Diego, James Bailey, Nickey Shorey, Steve and Roger Johnson.
Mumbai City Fc has got a goal scoring machine in Nicolas Anelka. The Frenchman, with his experience in various football leagues around the world, will be very crucial for the team this time around too. His mentoring of younger players in the team will also play a crucial role in Mumbai FC’s campaign this season. Along with Anelka, Sunil Chhetri will be leading the line for the Mumbai outfit. This is going to be mouth watering prospect, if you add Sony Norde into that mix. Sunil Chhetri bagged the highest price in the player auction when he was sold for 1,20,00,000 and he is also the first Indian to have scored 50 goals for the country. Where as Sony Norde set ablaze I-league with his skills for Mohun Bagan last season.
Sunil Chhetri has already said that it is privilege to play and train with Anelka and is equally appreciative of Sony Norde’s talent. Subrata Pal, who is known as the Indian Super Man will have to improve upon his 1st season performance under the bar to guide Mumbai FC’s title challenge. Other Indian players in the squad include Rowilson Rodriguez, Ashutosh Mehta, Subhash Singh, Keegan Pereira,Pratesh Shirodkar,Brandon Fernandes, Gabriel Fernandes, Lalchhuan Mawia, Debjit Majumder, Sampath Kuttymani, Albino Gomes. Foreigners include Frantz Bertin, Cristian Bustos, Frédéric Piquionne, Selim Benachour, Juan Aguilera, Sony Norde, Aitor, Andre Moritz, Pavel Čmovš, Nicolas Anelka and Darren O’Dea
According to me Delhi Dynamos will be the most exciting team to watch with a host of talented players in their squad.Roberto Carlos is the man handed with the responsibility of firing the team to glory.Experienced wingers Malouda and Riise will play a massive role in the fortunes of Delhi Dynamos this season. National team striker Robin Singh will be hoping to get over his recent goal drought and fire for the team.
The team is shapes up well with experienced defenders like Anwar Ali and Anas in their lineup. Delhi has other talented indian players like Francis Fernandes, Seiminlen Doungel, Sehnaj Singh, Naoba Singh,Robert Lalthlamuana, Gunashekar Vignesh, Zodingliana Ralte, Souvik Chakraborty,Prabir Das and Shylo Malsawmtluanga in their squad. Subhasish Roy, Toni Doblas and and Ravi Kumar will fight for spot between the posts. Delhi Dynamos are strongly the favourites to win the title. It will be lovely to watch stars like Robero Carlos, Malouda and Riise combine to produce magi. I can’t wait to watch Roberto Carlo’s free kick! Other foreign players in the team are Serginho Greene, Chicão, Vinicius Ferreira De Souza, Hans Mulder, Adil Nabi, Gustavo and Richard Gadze
To wrap things up, a whopping sum of Rs. 7.22 crore was spent on ten players in the ISL auction for Indian players, with Sunil Chettri becoming the highest priced player for Rs. 1,20,00,000 and Eugeneson Lyngdoh coming second with Rs.1,05,000.Every team in the league has added new foreigners to the line. The second season is going to be an even more thrilling one.
ISL season 2 we are all waiting for you. Come on India! Let’s football.