Tag Archives: Indian Super League

The Merger Rant

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Who wouldn’t get frustrated and who wouldn’t want to rant about the mess that is Indian football. A visibly frustrated Nevin Thomas decided to have a go at it.  You can follow him on Twitter here.

The mess that is Indian football

‘A merged league is good for Indian football’, said a very important All India Football Federation official recently. The Indian football players echoed it (because it’s really not in our culture to voice concerns even if there were any). Foreign stars, with very little idea of how football works in India, were saying the same things too. After all, it was just common sense.

BECAUSE:

  1. Longer league means stability for players. They don’t have to keep jumping clubs every three months.
  2. Proper rest. They aren’t playing 3 games (2 of which went all the way to penalties) in 7 days.

READ: Steve Coppell’s take on ISL finals

  1. Going in sync with international leagues will allow smooth transfers of players (IN and OUT).
  2. We wouldn’t have to call it 2016-17 I-League when it’s actually held only in 2017 (OCD nightmares, you see).

The list, I’m sure, goes on and on. And as for the cons, I can’t think of anything apart from a few marquees (oldies) turning down ISL due to the longer duration of the league. Ok, so a few T-shirts won’t be sold. Who cares?

What is actually bewildering is how the AIFF has thought about all these ONLY after kick-starting a league. See, there was this football league, which in 2007 was rebranded as ‘I-League’, running in the country. Why didn’t AIFF try improving the league instead of starting a new one? Ok, it wasn’t doing so well, with teams pulling out faster than Sunil Chhetri could score goals. But, to be fair to them, they had valid reasons. How do you survive (financially) in a league that gets ZERO promotion? Blimey, I can’t for the life of me remember the last time when I saw ISL-like efforts being put in for what is still India’s gateway to the Asian club championships.

Which is why it was quite exciting (regardless of the ‘seize the means of production’ T-shirts I wear) to see money-minded IMG-Reliance (International Management Group-Reliance Industries Limited) buying out AIFF’s commercial rights in 2010.

But things didn’t exactly as some of us had hoped. The new-comer continued the trend of not giving a duck about I-League and then launched a completely different league — a shorter, IPL-style (thankfully, with no cheerleader nonsense) Indian Super League.

I know it has been three seasons now, but I am yet to figure out why there was a need to split Indian football into two, when there was already an existing league that complied to all the AFC rules.  If you had the money and the PR machinery to start a new league with a BANG, why wasn’t it utilised to boost the existing model?

So I decided to ask around through a poll on Twitter and here are some of the reasons I got:

1) Better packaging: A lot of people said the ISL made football in India way more ‘watchable’. In other words, it was better packaged for the Indian audience. 7 pm kick-off was ideal for office-goers as compared to the 4pm matches of I-League. Star Sports was doing a better job than Ten Sports in broadcast – better commentary, better camera angles, better pundits… basically better everything.

2) I-League’s failure: Years of lacklustre performances and mismanagement had given I-League such a bad name that it made more sense to start something fresh. If I was a sponsor, I would want to invest in something new (especially with the financial backing of IMG-Reliance) than a stale I-Leauge.

3) Moving away from family set-up: Indian football clubs have been traditionally run by wealthy families. With no self-sustaining mechanism in place for these clubs, AIFF thought it was better to encourage more corporate-sponsored teams. In short, ISL was an attempt to kill the likes of Salgaocar FC and encourage more Bengaluru FCs.

Barring point number two, all the other reasons I was told on my poll in Twitter, did not involve the need to start a new league though. Add eight new corporate sponsored (with solid financial backing) clubs to I-League and the pressure would have pushed family-run clubs to either pull out OR up their game, right? And, how difficult would it have been to have late kick-offs to make I-League more TV friendly?

We surely have enough stadiums.

READ Joy Battacharjya’s piece on stadium utilisation

And I’m sure TV guys would have been more than OK with broadcasting the game at 7 pm instead of 4 pm.

ESPN senior assistant editor Debayan Sen’s tweet sums the Indian football scenes the best up. IMG-Reliance wanted something completely in its control and AIFF happily gave a thumbs-up signal. Which would have been OK, had all stakeholders been consulted.  But were they?

 

Ever since the takeover, though, the agenda of AIFF seems to be somehow move away from the existing football big-guns. More corporate backed teams, less family-run clubs. The idea, as told to me by AIFF VP Subrata Dutta in an interview, is to ensure all clubs have a sustainable model for revenue generation. The baffling fact is how AIFF decided that family-run clubs cannot find a model but corporate-run teams can. Apart from BFC, no corporate-run club has scaled the zenith of Indian football. It is fair to say, ISL was a big nail in the coffin for all the I-League clubs which were already in scarcity of funds. The sponsors had something better to invest in and the likes of Royal Wahingdoh (exciting team from Shillong), and the Goan clubs, including Dempo SC (one of the most successful team in history of Indian football league), cut their ties with the I-League. Another theory is that a new league was always in the plans for IMG-R but Bengaluru FC’s phenomenal success caused the sudden plunge. BFC showed there is a clear way of succeeding in Indian football, a model other clubs soon tried to emulate, and the rising popularity of the I-League created concerns for the team at IMG-R plotting a new league.

Now, three seasons into the so-called football revolution, AIFF wants a League merger — for the better of football, it claims. But, like the idea of ISL, was this merger idea fast-forwarded due to BFC’s success in the Asian arena? It would look funny to the outside world that the league with the likes for Forlan and Malouda playing is not the one representing India in Asia. And I’m sure, BFC’s success has got the think-tanks at IMG-R and ISL teams licking their lips at the idea of more lucrative sponsorship deals.

But there are some problems with the merger plans. AIFF has agreed a deal with these ISL clubs that guarantees them no relegation for around eight seasons. So the top league, after the merger, will have teams playing without any relegation. The second tier league, which will be today’s I-League, what AFC recognises as India’s football league, will have no scope of promotion into the new top league, though, relegation still remains.

Basically, all the clubs who have traditionally existed, including big guns such as Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, now face the threat of not playing in the top league. While they can still compete in the second tier league, it remains highly unlikely that they will, considering the difficulty it will face in attracting potential sponsors with no titles to win or AFC competitions to take part.

Is it even fair to these teams who have done so much for Indian football? “We haven’t made any decision on which teams get to play top league and which don’t,” said an AIFF big shot when I asked.  “After Under-17 world cup, the new league will start,” said another AIFF biggie, recently in a press conference. So when will we ever get a confirmation on who will play where? Less than a year to go before the big shake-up and teams do not even know where they will be playing. So how can they sign a good quality player for a long term deal?

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The Goan clubs have already left due to the proposed new roadmap for Indian football. Last year the likes of Royal Wahindoh and Pune FC cited the very same reasons for their exit, though AIFF stuck to its stance that these clubs failed to reach the financial criteria required to play in the top division.

Yet, barring BFC, the corporates have struggled to make the cut too. If Bharat FC had done enough to fulfill the criteria, then why did they pull out after a brief period?

Story made short — IMG-R walked into Indian football and did whatever it wanted to.

Nobody knows how many teams from the I-League will make it to the top-division. Nobody knows what the criteria will be. Will Kolkata have Bagan, East Bengal and ATK when many states won’t even have one team?

There hasn’t been a shortage of excuses though. One phrase given by most AIFF officials in their twisted justification is — ‘many clubs don’t fulfill the AFC requirements’. Apparently many Indian clubs do not have (financially and infrastructure-wise, I assume) to have an AFC club license. So why were they given the rights in the first place? And are we to assume every club that started atleast in the I-League era will fulfill these criteria?

In a way, AIFF is suggesting that only clubs fulfilling the set of rules will have a chance of making it to the top league after the proposed merger.

So I downloaded the 70-page-long AFC club licensing criteria for 2016 and went through it to find out what these possible reasons could be (the OCD kicked in)

I-league, ISL, Indian Super League, HeroISL, Merger, One league, Goa, Clubs, Exit, Leave, League, FIFA, AFCTo be honest, while the I-League clubs seem to be safe on the infrastructure demands, the financial part is slightly murky, with AFC wanting historic and future information. Clubs such has Salgaocar, which has relied on family wealth, might struggle to produce the required financial documents. Or so I think (I would love to be wrong).

Scroll reported that Salgaocar had failed to participate in the licensing process.

But one is to assume most clubs will be able to produce the required documents, considering how the likes of East Bengal and Mohun Bagan play in the AFC tournaments most seasons.

And mind you, while AIFF will not openly admit it, it’s the ISL clubs who will struggle a lot more to match the AFC criteria. For example the foreign player rule:

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It doesnt mean the ISL clubs can’t take part. But they will have a lot of foreign players who won’t be allowed to play, which is an unnecessary burden on team wages. Will the foreign stars in the team be OK with missing out on Asia’s top league? Also, barring Goa, which other team has player with 3 foreign players or lesser, and succeeded in ISL?

The great Indian football league merger, at least according to me, should be delayed till ISL teams have more Indians playing. And once that is achieved, it can merge into I-League as one big, fat league (with around 16 teams) and we can thereafter replicate the 9-month league format that most countries have. Rather than rush to a merger, push ISL teams to  field more Indians, allow I-league to grow simultaneously, at least organically, if you do not want to promote it (AIFF has admitted that I-League TV viewership and stadium turn-out has increased every year), and in two years time, come up with a structure that benefits all stakeholders of Indian football. (Unified league in India likely after U-17 World Cup – Kushal Das)

But, my brain tells me AIFF and IMG-R won’t wait that long. Actually, AIFF Gen. Sec said it too.

If Oxford dictionary’s definition of ‘stockholm syndrome’ as “Feelings of trust or affection felt in many cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim towards a captor” is something to go by, then it perfectly describes the relationship between AIFF and IMG-Reliance. The Indian football federation seems to have completely lost the plot, and now, in its bid to survive, has developed an unjustifiable affection for IMG-R.

One can only be an Andy Dufresne (that’s your cue to watch Shawshank Redemption if you haven’t yet) and HOPE the merger will not mark the end of a legacy in Indian football.

This blog post is just a rant and it has nothing to do with my employers. In fact, I have a feeling they won’t like me so much after this. But, blah! As usual, I’m likely to make mistakes. I urge you to correct me wherever you think I’ve gone wrong..

Downloads:

You can download the AFC club licensing criteria here (page 33 infrastructure, page 55 financial): http://www.the-afc.com/uploads/afc/files/AFC_CLR_Booklet_2016.pdf

AFC Champions League competition regulations: http://www.the-afc.com/uploads/afc/files/acl_2015_competition_regulations_final.pdf

Indian Super League Season 3 Preview : Atlético de Kolkata

Indian Super League season 3 is about to start and here we preview the Atlético de Kolkata team for the season! Have a listen and let us know your thoughts!

Aston Villa to open academy in India

Aston Villa, Football, Soccer, India, Government, artificial turf, academy, grass roots, indian super league, Vijay Goel, Prakesh JavedekarAston Villa’s new owner Tony Xia was in India, meeting government officials to discuss the possibility of setting up an academy and engage with Indian Super League clubs.

Yesterday, the club announced their plans to set up an academy and seek opportunities to tie-up with Indian Super league clubs. The club website said after meeting with Minister of Sports Vijay Goel and the Minister of Education Prakesh Javedekar, Aston Villa will be appointed as an advisor on football. The sport is a part of the national curriculum for Indian state schools.

Villa’s new academy will come up in New Delhi on a property provided by the Municipal Council. The new academy will have state-of-the-art facilities, including an artificial turf.

The report also mentions about a possible tie-up with an Indian Super League side.

Aston Villa Chairman Tony Xia was quoted as saying :

“Aston Villa Football Club, one of the most successful football clubs in the history of English football, plans to expand globally and India is one of the countries where Aston Villa not only wants to have an Indian Super League club but also open football academies all over India!”

Kerala Blasters – ISL Season II Preview

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Kerala Blasters, Hero ISL, Indian Super league, Season, 2, II, Football, Soccer, League, India

Kerala Blasters had an amazing first season, they exceeded all expectations by reaching the finals of first season. Blighted with ownership issues KBFC remained low key during the ISL auction but picked up some good players in the player draft. They have roped in an experienced Coach in Peter Taylor who will replace David James who was the marquee player/ manger last season. Trevor Morgan, former East Bengal coach remains as the assistant coach.

 

 

Blasters have recruited former Westham Goal Keeper Stephen Bywater, who will replace David James as the foreign keeper this season. Experienced custodian Sandip Nandy and Mohun Bagan goal Keeper Shilton Paul are the other goal keepers in the squad. Bywater will be the first choice keeper, otherwise we will see Sandip Nandy replacing him in the lineup.

 

 

Blasters have recruited former New Castle defender Peter Ramage who is expected to play a crucial role this season. Former Spanish International and World Cup winner Carlos Marchena (Marquee Player), Sandesh Jhinghan and Marcus Williams are the other stand out players in defense.

 

 

In the middle of the park, Blasters have a variety of options. Portuguese player Joao Coimbra and former Barca trained Josu is expected to start in the middle. CK Vineeth with his blistering pace could earn spot on the left. The other options in midfield are Cavin Lobo, Shankar, Mehtab Hussian Ishfaq Ahmed, Pulga and Peter Carvalho.

 

 

The real struggle for Blasters last season was scoring goals. They managed to score only 11 goals last season and out of that 5 were scored by Iain Hume who has then moved on to reigning champions ATK. Management seems to have put in a lot of thought to avoid the goal drought by signing some good talent upfront. The forward line-up of Chris Dagnall, former Arsenal man Sanchez Watt, Antonio German, Mohammed Rafi and Manandeep Singh, is quite a formidable one.

 

 

Blasters conceded only 11 goals last season, the lowest among all the teams. They will be looking to improve upon this record this season. With a great home support, Blasters could again be the surprise package of this season.

Indian Super League Season II – Northeast United FC Team Preview

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North East United takes on Kerala Blasters in their Indian Super League season II inaugural match. Here is a preview of the team from Aditya Shandilya.

North East United, Hero ISL, Indian Super league, Season, 2, II, Football, Soccer, League, IndiaNortheast United FC had a dismal outing in the inaugural season of ISL last year despite starting out well as they finished at the bottom of the table. Though it was hardly a reflection of the talent at their disposal. Their management now had put disappointment behind and rebuild the squad with some good acquisitions. The heart of the highlanders remains the northeastern players as all domestic players are from that region of country.

Starting from the goal post, in Lalthuammawia Ralte of I League runners up Bengaluru FC they notched up a jewel. Ralte appeared in each and every game of BFC this season and managed a lot of clean sheets. Gennaro Bracigliano has been handed a goalkeeping coach cum player role this season. His quality was obvious in ISL 1 with Chennaiyin FC and it provides north eastern club with added options along with their young Kerala born GK T P Rehenesh. They have the advantage of having two good Indian goalkeeper in Ralte and Rehenesh.
In defence they have retained Miguel Garcia and snatched Kerala Blasters FC most reliable defender in ISL 1 Cedric Hengbert. Garcia is the player of the season for Sporting club de Goa this time around and is credible center back. Hengbert and Garcia may come up as a strong defensive wall in, if  they click. Along with them will be Aibor Khongjee who was recently is called for national duty against Iran after his stellar show for Shillong Lajong in I-league. If Farias go for four center back then Robin Gurung , Raju Yumnum and Zohmingliana Ralte have to compete for the spot in opening 11. While Ralte is centre back who is good in the air on the other hand Robin and Yumnum are left back with Yumnum played 16 games for Pune FC last season.
In midfield they have their marquee signing Simao Sabrosa to rely upon and if he still match fit then he can team up with Bruno Arias who switched from Delhi Dynamos. But the pick of the auction for highlanders, Seityasen Singh will be the key  man in midfield if the team have to succeed. His performance in I league for Royal Wahingdoh make him the second best midfielder after Eugeneson Lyngdoh and team’s assistant manager Santosh kashyap will know what Seityasen exactly brings to the team. Sanju Pradhan, Boithang Haokip and Marlingki Suting provide options in the flank alongside Bengaluru FC’s Siam Hangal and Alen Deory. Midfield looks very versatile and experienced as well.
Coming to the forward line, the surprise grab by Northeast United is Nicolas Velez. The Argentine is in tremendous form for Warrior FC of S league by netting 21 goals in 26 appearances. If he can replicate the same showing in ISL then he will turn out to be the buy of the season. In Holicharan Narzary we have a very talented partner who is now pretty successful in the national scene as well. Boubacar Sanogo, their latest signing is also a goal machine, he may not be at his best but provides much needed experience in forward line while Ghana’s Francis Dadzie is also a young prolific striker in good form. This makes North East’s forward line a formidable one.
So now it is up to NEUFC to come out all guns blazing in Indian Super League.

Ratings :

 

Goalkeeper : 

8

 

 

They have picked good foreign and a best Indian goalkeeper and so there is less to worry on this front.

 

Defence : 6

They are short on options as far as foreign players are concerned. Injury to any of them will be a huge concern.

Midfield : 7

 

They will rely lot on their marquee player Simao Sabrosa and Seityasen Singh. These players have to perform for highlanders to succeed. Seityasen is key between their transition between defense and attack and as he has been in good form recently.

Forward : 7

 

They have the players who can score goals but lack of Indian players up front may cause problem in cramped tournament like this. Injury to Holicharan Narzary  is injured and this could disrupt their plans. His timely recovery is important for Cesar Farias’s team.

Coach:
As far as Cesar Farias is concerned, the ex Venezuela coach have a reputation of bringing less fancied squad to the top as coach of Venezuela junior and senior teams. His assistant Santosh Kashyap also made his name during his stint at Royal Wahingdoh during last I league season. Both

believes in strong midfield so they may go for 4-4-2 or 3-4-3 formation.

Formation & starting line-up : 4-4-2 or 3-4-3

 

Ralte, Garcia, Aibor, Raju, Hengbert, Simao, Bruno, Seityasen, Sanju Pradhan, Holicharan, Nicolas

 

Player to watch:

 

Nicolas velez. He is well acclaimed striker as of now and many Asian clubs will be keeping a keen eye on him. Easily makes him the most important player for Northeast United. Last time around highlanders struggled due to their lack of goals, mainly due to the failure of James Keene and Durga Boro. Hopefully Velez will step-up and make up for the paucity of goals for North East United.

Unpredicatbale as it can get – Indian Super League Season II Preview!

ISL Season II Preview

 

ISL is as unpredictable as it can get, says Saji Pillai. Read on.

Indian Super League became the fortune changer of the Indian football from the first season itself. This became the fifth popular league in the world and first in Asia according to number of viewers watched that in stadium. It turned out to be most complicated league in the world as there is no hot favorite, any team can be champions. The results of the matches have been quite unpredictable.

Summary and chances of teams are detailed :

 

Atletico De Kolkata: Team shows professionalism and with their marquee player Helder Postiga they will advance well in the league. But retaining the championship is going to be difficult for them. Primarily because of two reasons. All other teams have strengthened up this season, and have also brought in much younger players. Hume will fuel their attacks and fill the void of Fikru.

 

Kerala Blasters: Last season KBFC appeared with a weak team and surprised every other fancied teams with their ground support. This time they have a well balanced team filled with young blood. Most of their overseas players are from England and some of them have EPL expreience. In Carlos Marchena they have a veteran marquee player. Fuelled by their great ground support KB will turn out to be a nightmare to play against for all teams this season too.

 

Chennayin FC: According to me, Chennayin FC was the best team previous year. They lost the service of Djemba Bjemba but have added couple of more quality foreigners that will boost their performance and they will be a great threat this season too.

 

Delhi Dynamos: Strongest team on paper with some big names. Malouda and Riise will still pose threat against any team. Apart from them, the team doesn’t look to be a great one. This paucity of quality could be a constraint for their ambitions.

 

FC Pune City: The best team this season according to me. But veteran players will be prone to injuries and this could hamper their chances.

 

Mumbai city FC: Do not fancy much chance for them, but they can upset anybody on their day. Anelka and Sunil Chhetri combination will be a treat to watch.

 

North east united FC: North East United have made some great signings this season. The team comprising former Portuguese international Simão Sabrosa, Senagalese striker Diomansy Kamara and a host of Indian players from NEUFC will look to improve upon their performance from last season.

 

FC Goa: Zico managed FC Goa has a host of Brazilian players in their ranks including former Brazil international Lucio. For me, this team looks the weakest. But Zico is a highly experienced coach and has cherry picked his team for this season and it might just click for them.

 

Parting Shot : ISL season will be unpredictable. Every team has strengthened and no in special. Anyone can become the champion.

 

Tactial Preview of Mumbai City FC – ISL Season II

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Anelka’s inexperience as a manager would be Mumbai City FC’s biggest weakness this season says Maulik Mehta. Here is an excellent tactical preview of Mumbai City FC from him. Read on.

Mumbai City Football Club the team with a lot to prove this season!! Restricted by injuries to key players in the inaugural season their campaign didn’t had a happy ending.The club’s hopes were dashed last season as they finished second from the bottom of the table in the eight-team competition. However, having assembled a squad of powerful, attacking players for the second season, the club looks a rejuvenated side aiming to finish their unfinished business.

Mumbai City FC, Hero ISL, Indian Super league, Season, 2, II, Football, Soccer, League, IndiaPersonally with the embarrassment of riches MCFC possess in attack they should employ a 4-1-3-2 formation or a 4-4-2 diamond primarily at home or against goal shy teams who come to sit back and defend. Norde & Moritz should cut inside allowing the fullbacks to net in crosses from wide and form a potent attacking threat. However, the presence of only one defensive midfielder in the form of Juan Aguilera will make them susceptible on the break. Also, non-tracking back by wingers could be an issue that could be looked upon by the opponents. Any alterations could include the involvement of L.Ralte on the wings or as an attacking midfielder that could allow Sunil Chhetri to form a terrifying partnership with the French superstar. Ashutosh Mehta & L.Mawia could be used in the right and left full back spots especially when the games come thick & fast. However any injury to Subrata Paul would disrupt their whole campaign since their backups Albino & Debjith are young & lack big match experience. It would be fascinating & interesting to see who replaces and how they cope when Subrata Paul isn’t around.

Mumbai City FC, Hero ISL, Indian Super league, Season, 2, II, Football, Soccer, League, India

A more holistic approach could be used during away matches where you need to make sure you don’t concede early and keep the match tight and counter attack the rivals. They can use a 4-4-1-1 formation without the ball and a 4-2-3-1 formation during ball possession which could keep them compact as well as maintain stability during attack as well as in defense. They could use piqiounne & subhash singh mainly in the second half to hold the ball up and run at the defenses which could eventually lead them to a goal or two.Also Gabriel Fernandes mainly a right wing player known for its attacking prowess as well as tracking back could come on to preserve the goal lead.

Personally speaking I can’t see Mumbai city employing a back 3 with the lack of wing backs slots. The Indian pair of Gabriel & Rowilson along with much talented Brandon Fernandes could be used predominantly from the bench.

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Anelka and Piqiounne could be used in alternate matches however I don’t see both of them starting in a single match. Also, Subhash Singh with the wealth of stamina and pace could be used from the start, however I do question his ball holding skills. Honestly Subhash Singh could be destructive on the right flank or as a 2nd striker. The likes of Mortiz, Norde, Chettri & Cmovs would remain the players to watch out for MCFC this season.

This season MCFC may not be the favorites but they do have a great team lined up. However it remains to be seen how Nicolas Anelka manages and sets his team up. Most ISL Teams have Managers with wealth of experience & it remains to be seen how Anelka copes with the demanding nature of the league. This could turn out to be their biggest weaknesses. Also, they do have a tendency to concede 3goals though their requisite power packed midfield has the capability to score 4 and win it for the team.

Personally, I do think they will finish just outside the top 4 not because they don’t have a great side mainly because other sides are much stronger than MCFC.

Follow the author of this preview – Maulik Mehta on twitter here.

North, East, South, West: Indian Super League Season II preview

ISL 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.

North East United, Hero ISL, Indian Super league, Season, 2, II, Football, Soccer, League, India

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.

Atletico De Kolkata, Hero ISL, Indian Super league, Season, 2, II, Football, Soccer, League, India

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.

Chennayin FC, Indian Super League, Season 2, II, ISL, Hero

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, Hero ISL, Indian Super league, Season, 2, II, Football, Soccer, League, India

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, Hero ISL, Indian Super league, Season, 2, II, Football, Soccer, League, India

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.

FC Pune City, Hero ISL, Indian Super league, Season, 2, II, Football, Soccer, League, India

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, Hero ISL, Indian Super league, Season, 2, II, Football, Soccer, League, India

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

Delhi Dynamos, Hero ISL, Indian Super league, Season, 2, II, Football, Soccer, League, India

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.

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United SC Sign Former East Bengal Goalkeeper Abhijit Mondal

United SC, Kolkata, Football, India, IMG - Reliance, Indian Super League, ISL, Players Loan United SC registered 11 players at IFA including Abhijit Mondal, Sashti Duley!

United Sports Club on Tuesday registered a total number of eleven players at the IFA Office ahead of 2015-16 Calcutta Football League (Premier Division).

The former United SC keeper Abhijit Mondal, who was member of club’s maiden Durand Cup winning squad in 2010, making his return at the club after spending two successful seasons at East Bengal.

United SC, Kolkata, Football, India, IMG - Reliance, Indian Super League, ISL, Abhijit Mondal“It feels great to become a member of purple family again. I still remember when we won the Durand Cup in 2010, we also had a young team like this year therefor I am very much hopeful to repeat that performance once again,” Mondal said.

Meanwhile the club has also signed seasoned campaigner Sashti Duley along with a host of young but talented footballers like Usman Ashik, Sreanshu Das, Ajay Nag, Md. Rashid, Shaibuddin KK, Subhajit Biswas, Suhair VP, Sahbaz Salil and Md. Rafi.

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