Everything you wanted to know about the Indian Super League (ISL)
Indian Super League or ISL is one of the newest football leagues in the world and will be played in India from October to December, 2014. There are eight franchise teams playing in the league for top honours, with cities such as Guwahati, Pune, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, and the states of Kerala and Goa represented. The Indian Soccer League features 56 foreign players and 116 Indian players. Each team may feature a maximum of six foreign players in the playing eleven. The players were selected based on the Player Draft System perfected by the MLS and NBA in the United States.
Why was the Indian Super League formed?
India has been largely a cricket mad nation, but the live telecast of the English Premier League, the Spanish La Liga and the UEFA Champions League over the last decade has really created a groundswell of support for football in the country. However, much to the annoyance of Indian footballers, this support has not extended to the football played in India. Not a single Indian footballer is a household name in the country as most Indians prefer watching Manchester United or Barcelona instead of Indian clubs such as Mohan Bagan or East Bengal.
A need was felt to completely revamp club football in India, to make Indian football something it has never been – sexy. To bring into Indian football the glitz and glamour associated with the English Premier League, or closer home, in the Indian Premier League. Hence, the formation of the Indian Super League, which is a highly professionally run league with top names of the past, such as Del Piero, David Trezeguet, Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg, Matteo Mattarazi, Luis Garcia and others. These players are well past their prime, but still, Indian football fans have never had seen such big names play in India before.
What made Del Piero sign up to the Indian Super League?
One word. Money. Del Piero will be paid a cool $1 million for just two months spent playing football in India. Not bad for a semi-retired former superstar of football. Other players such as Pires, Ljungberg, Luis Garcia, Trezeguet and others may not get paid as much, but they get in the neighborhood of $800,000. Not bad! Indian players, needless to say, don’t get paid much and are here for the experience and exposure.
Where can you watch the Indian Super League?
Star Sports is the official broadcaster of the ISL in India. Football fans outside India can catch up live action on the website www.starsports.com.
The Teams of the ISL:
North East United
This team from the North East of India has the youngest squad in the competition, with very talented Indian players from that region. North East India has emerged as the new hub of Indian football, where football is clearly the top game, not cricket. It’s wonderful to see the region get represented in the ISL . They have done well to pick experienced senior foreign players such as Joan Capdevilla and James Keene. But the youth and inexperience of the Indian players could hold the team back from winning the competition. But they can be expected to play exciting and attractive football.
Goalkeepers: Alexandros Tzorvas, Kunzang Bhutia, Rehenesh T.P
Defenders: Joan Capdevila, Aiborlang Khongjee, Jibon Singh, Massamba Sambou, Miguel Garcia, Pritam Singh, Robin Gurung, Tomas Josl.
Midfielders: Alen Deory, Boithang Haokip, David Ngaihte, Do Dong Hyun, Guilherme Castro, Isaac Chansa, Kondwani Mtonga, Milan Singh, Zodingliana, Leo Bertos.
Fowards: Cornell Glenn, Durga Boro, James Keene, Luis Padilla, Redeem Tlang, Sergio Pardo, Seimenlen Doungel.
FC Pune City
Pune City seem to be among the weakest teams in the competition as they bank heavily on David Trezeguet, who is well past his prime as a striker. Coach Franco Colomba was confused about the right formation and combination for his team in the pre-season, and still doesn’t seem to be certain even as the tournament begins.Fitness levels are a serious concern with a majority of the foreigners signed by FC Pune City being in their mid-thirties. And the Indian players are clearly not the best available in India.
Goalkeepers: Arindam Bhattacharya, Emanuele Belardi, Lalit Thapa
Defenders: Andres Felipe Gonzalez Ramirez, Anupam Sarkar, Bruno Cirillo, Daniele Magliocchetti, Deepak Devrani, Dharamraj Ravanan, Park Kwang-II, Pritam Kotal, Saidou Mady Panandetiguiri
Midfielders: Ashutosh Mehta, Davide Colomba, Israil Gurung, Konstantinos Katsouranis, Lenny Rodrigues, Manish Maithani, Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Omar Andres Rodrigues Martinez, Pratik Shinde, Tapan Maity
Forwards: David Trezeguet, Ivan Bolado Palacios, Joaquim Abranches, MacPherlin Dudu Omagbemi
Mumbai City FC
Owned by Bollywood superstar Ranbir Kapoor, Mumbai City certainly have the glamour quotient, but it remains to be seen if that translates into the football.
They do have exciting talent such as the Brazilian attacking midfielder Andre Moritz and the enigmatic Nicholas Anelka. Lalrindika Ralte is a promising young Indian player.
Freddie Ljungberg is the big name here having played for some world class clubs. It’s a team with a plenty of pace, and they are expected to create quite an impression.
Goalkeepers: Andre Matos Dias Pereira , Ishan Debnath, Subrata Paul
Defenders: Deepak Mandal, Ilias Pollalis, Johan Letzelter , Manuel Freidrich , Pavel Cmovs, Peter Costa, Raju Gaikwad, Syed Rahim Nabi
Midfielders: Fredrik Ljungberg , Asif Kottayil, Francisco Javier Fernandez Luque , Jan Stohanzl , Lalrin Fela, Lalrindika Ralte, Ram Malik, Tiago Manuel Fernandes Ribeiro, Andre Moritz
Forwards: Abhishek Yadav, Diego Fernando Nadaya , Nadong Bhutia, Nicolas Anelka , Rohit Mirza, Singam Subhash Singh, Sushil Kumar Singh
Kerala Blasters FC
The Kerala Blasters are owned by the original “Master Blaster”, Sachin Tendulkar and they are from the South Indian state of Kerala which has always been known for producing some of the finest Indian footballers. The Blasters have proven Indian talent such as Mehtab Hossain, Nirmal Chettri and Renedy Singh, who have been a part of the Indian side for years now. This is a team that banks heavily on Indian talent because of the absence of any big foreign name, except goalkeeper David James, the veteran Englishman who has had a terrific career in the English Premier League and was in his day, the best goalkeeper in his country. They are expected to work hard for each other and do reasonably well. Michael Chopra, the former Newcastle United striker, should lead the attack, but he really is not a top name in football.
Goalkeepers: David Benjamin James, Luis Barreto, Sandeep Nandy
Defenders: Avinabo Bag, Cedric Hengbart, Colin Falvey, Erwin Spitzner, Gurwinder Singh, James Reynolds McAllister, Nirmal Chettri, Ramandeep Singh, Raphael Romey, Sandesh Jhingam, Godwin Franco
Midfielders: Ishfaq Ahmed, Mehtab Hossain, Penn Orji, Renedy Singh, Sushant Mathew, Victor Herrero Forcada
Fowards: Andrew Barisic, CS Sabeeth, Iain Hume, Michael Chopra, Milagres Gonsalves, Pedro Adrian Veloso Gusmao
Goa is the most football mad state in India, and FC Goa can count on a lot of support from the locals. They are coached by the Brazilian football great Zico, and they are expected to add plenty of colour, vibrance and excitement to the Indian Super League. But enthusiasm and youth is all they can bank on at the moment as they have failed to sign any top international name, and don’t have any experienced Indian footballers either. But they do have Robert Pires, semi-retired though he may be. Goans love football and their team is expected to put up a show for everybody, make sure that the crowd has a great time!
Goalkeepers: Jan Seda, Laximikant Kattimani, Gurpreet Chabal
Defenders: Debabrata Roy, Narayan Das, Prabir Das, Rowilson Rodrigues, Andre Santos, Youness Bengelloun , Gregory Arnolin , Bruno Pinheiro , Haroon Amiri
Midfielders: Gabriel Fernandes, Clifford Miranda, Bikramjit Singh, Jewel Raja, Alwyn George, Mandar Rao Dessai, Romeo Fernandes, Peter Carvalho, Robert Pires , Edgar Marcelino (Portugal), Pronay Halder
Forwards: Holicharan Narzary, Miroslav Slepicka , Miguel Herlein , Ranti Martins , Tolgay Ozbey
This is the team with the biggest player in the ISL, one of the greatest footballers of his generation, who needs no introduction – Alessandro Del Piero. They also have the tall and powerful Belgian Kristof van Hout in goal, who literally presents BIG challenge to any attacking player. The Delhi Dynamos have the talented Indian Naoba Singh shoring up the defence. But Del Piero is obviously the main player and then entire team has been built around him. Would be disastrous for the Dynamos if Del Piero picks up an injury though.
Goalkeepers: Kristof van Hout, Marek Cech, Jagroop Singh.
Defenders: Anwar Ali, Robert Lalthlamuana, Naoba Singh, Shouvik Ghosh, Munmun Lugun, Govin Singh, Wim Raymaekers, Stijn Houben.
Midfielders: Bruno Herrero Arias, Hans Mulder, Henrique Dinis, Gustavo Marmentini, Pavel Elias, Shylo Malsawmtluanga, Francis Fernandes, Manish Bhargav, Adil Khan, Steven Dias, Souvik Chakraborty.
Strikers: Morten Skoubo, Mads Junker, Alessandro Del Piero, Manandeep Singh.
The Chennai side probably have the best defense in the ISL with big names Materazzi and Silvestre. Remember them? They played for opposite sides in the World Cup 2006 final, which made Materazzi one of the most talked about men on the planet, after getting Zinedine Zidane sent off.
Chennaiyin also have top notch attacking midfield talent in the Brazilian Elano and the Serbian Bojan Djordjic.
They are a strong side, and among the early favourites for the ISL and are expected to do really, really well.
Goalkeepers: Abhijit Mondal, Shilton Paul, Gennaro Bracigliano
Defenders: Gouramangi Singh, Dhanachandra Singh, Khelemba Meetei, Abhishek Das, Bernard Mendy , Jairo Suarez , Marco Materazzi , Mikael Silvestre
Midfielders: Harmanjot Singh Khabra, Denson Devadas, Dane Pereira, NP Pradeep, Jaison Vales, Anthony Barbosa, Sukhwinder Singh, Cristian Hidalgo, Bojan Djordjic , Bruno Pelissari ,Pierre Tillman, Elano
Fowards: Jeje Lalpekhlua, Jayesh Rane, Balwant Singh, Eduardo Silva Lerma (Spain), John Stiven Mendoza
Atletico de Kolkata
Atletico de Kolkata not only have the strongest squad in the ISL, they are also the best prepared team, having gone through an extensive pre-season training in Madrid, Spain, which had all the players getting to know each other well and gelling together. While Del Pierro may be the biggest name in the ISL, the best player on current form is perhaps Luis Garcia, the former Spain international. He looks fit, fast and in great touch and leads a group of fine Spanish professional footballers such as Borja, Miguel, Carbo. They also have a fine African striker in Fikru Teferra Lemessa, who is expected to be among the top goal scorers in the competition. Atletico de Kolkata may not have the biggest foreign names, but they do have the youngest and the fittest. It’s hard to see this highly professional outfit get beaten.
Goalkeepers – Subhasish Roy Chowdhury, Basilio Sancho Agudo, Apoula Edima Edel Bete
Defenders – Arnab Mondal, Biswajit Saha, Denzil Franco, José Miguel González Rey, Kingshuk Debnath, Nallappan Mohanraj, Sylvain Monsoreau
Midfielders – Borja Fernández, Cavin Lobo, Climax Lawrence, Jakub Podaný, Jofre Mateu González, Lester Fernandez, Mohamed Mamunul Islam Mamun, Ofentse Nato, Rakesh Masih, Sanju Pradhan, Luis García
Forwards – Arnal Llibert Conde Carbó, Baljit Sahni, Fikru Teferra Lemessa, Mohammed Rafi, Mohammed Rafique
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