Indian Super League 2020-21: New Expectations, New Challenges
The seventh edition of the ISL or the Indian Super League will kick off on November 20. Eleven teams—SC East Bengal, ATK Mohun Bagan, Bengaluru FC, Chennaiyin FC, FC Goa, Kerala Blasters FC, Mumbai City FC, Hyderabad FC, Odisha FC, NorthEast United FC, Jamshedpur FC—will battle it out in this edition of the ISL. One thing is for sure, this season promises to be a season unlike any so far. The ISL, which started in 2014, was primarily a “private and closed” league deemed good only for marketing and grabbing eyeballs. Six years down the line, it stands as the so-called ‘premier’ league of Indian football, securing all AFC spots for itself.
The most significant change this year has
been the entry of the two legacy clubs in the ISL. While Mohun Bagan have
merged with defending champions ATK to form ATK Mohun Bagan, East Bengal,
courtesy their new investor Shree Cement will be playing in the tournament as
SC East Bengal. The Kolkata derby, with all its emotions, passions and legions
of supporters, will bring a whole new dimension to the ISL. Other significant
changes in this edition are the inclusion of at least one overseas player from
an AFC-affiliated country among the foreign players in each team and the
expansion of the minimum squad size of a team to 35 players. The Marquee player
criterion has also been slightly tweaked to increase the standard of the
If there are certain expectations from this season, the challenges too are no less, particularly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Football matches will have to take place without the presence of spectators and in a bio-secure bubble in Goa. Three stadiums have been earmarked for the games—the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, the Tilak Nagar Stadium in Vasco da Gama and the GMC stadium in Bambolin. Strict guidelines have been laid down for observing social distancing protocols, prioritising players’ health and safety. Most of the teams are performing their pre-season in Goa currently, with almost their full Indian contingent while some of the foreign players are yet to join their teammates. It goes without saying that such technical problems have taken a toll on the preparation of the teams.
Be that as it may, the very fact that elite football returns to India is perhaps the greatest boon to the average Indian. All of us have been waiting patiently for 7 months and come 20 November, each of us will be ready to unleash the football fanatic in ourselves. So, get ready, guys, it is that time of the year when football fever is upon us!
This thread is to discuss all activities--pre-season matches, team news, matches during ISL, post-match analysis--except those related to transfer.