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Indian Super League 2017-18: A look at all 10 teams in the fourth season

Sahil Bhalla | Updated on: 16 November 2017, 18:54 IST
(Arya Sharma/Catch News)

As the World Cup qualifiers action die down, Indian football fans can tune in to the Indian Super League (ISL) from Friday. Though the I-League is still the official national tournament to judge the best of Indian football, this edition of ISL has much more legit quotient than the previous chapters. The winner this time will automatically go on to the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Cup. Agreed that it is not the topmost tournament at the Asian level -- that honour goes to the AFC Champions League. But ISL has premium corporate backers (like Reliance) and primetime slots.

After three seasons, the ISL this time has expanded its teamcount to 10 from eight. The five-month-long season will feature 95 matches, up from 65 last time. The two new teams are Bengaluru FC & Jamshedpur FC. The former is already a top draw among fans, thanks to its success I-League.

 

There will be fewer foreigners this time is ISL: a maximum of eight, down from 11 until now. Only five of them will be able to be on the pitch (down from six).

The inaugural match will be a repeat of last season’s final: Champions ATK will take on runners-up Kerala Blasters at the Salt Lake Stadium on 17 November.

Here’s a quick look at all 10 teams taking part in the fourth season of the ISL:

ATK

  • Team name: ATK
  • Location: Kolkata, West Bengal
  • Home ground: Salt Lake Stadium (capacity: 66,687)
  • Seasons: 4
  • Highest finish: Champions (2014, 2016)
  • Manager: Teddy Sheringham

ATK, previously known as Atlético de Kolkata, has a lot riding on them. They are the pride of Kolkata football these days. Kolkata Games and Sports Pvt. Ltd – backed by Sourav Ganguly and Sanjiv Goenka among others – is the owner of the team. 

For the first three seasons, Spanish La Liga club Atlético Madrid was also a co-owner. Goenka bought out the shares and the fourth season will be the first without Atlético Madrid.

Bengaluru FC

  • Team name: Bengaluru FC
  • Location: Bengaluru, Karnataka
  • Home ground: Sree Kanteerava Stadium (24,000)
  • Seasons: Debut (Previously in I-League)
  • Highest finish: N/A
  • Manager: Albert Roca

Bengaluru FC have recently moved on from the I-League to the Indian Super League. They are the only team to win the I-League in their debut season. The team is owned by Mumbai-based JSW Group.

Bengaluru FC have soem of the most passionate fans in Indian football. West Block Blues take their job as the 12th man very seriously.

“…And this role as the 12th man is taken extraordinarily seriously by each and every one of us, as we know that it is our duty to the team to be the loudest, most vociferous fans in all the land; to create an atmosphere so intimidating that the opponents never feel safe regardless of score or time,” reads their Facebook page.

Chennaiyin FC

  • Team name: Chennaiyin FC
  • Location: Chennai, Tamil Nadu
  • Home ground: Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai (27,877)
  • Seasons: 4
  • Highest finish: Champions (2015)
  • Manager: John Gregory

Chennaiyin FC were semi-finalists in the inaugural season and were champions in the next. Cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni and actor Abhishek Bachchan are among their owners.

During the inaugural season, Italian World Cup winner Marco Materazzi was the team’s player-manager.

The club has two – B-Stand Blues and The Supermachans - active supporters’ group.

Delhi Dynamos FC

  • Team name: Delhi Dynamos FC
  • Location: Delhi
  • Home ground: Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi (34,320)
  • Seasons: 4
  • Highest finish: Semi-final (2015, 2016)
  • Manager: Miguel Ángel Portugal

Delhi Dynamos’ owners are United States-based ship recycling company GMS Inc. and Delhi-based DEN Networks. Delhi Dynamos had entered into an agreement with Feyenoord but that lasted only one season.

The Dynamos made the semi-finals in both 2015 & 2016 but failed to progress to the finals.

Former Spanish midfielder Miguel Ángel Portugal has been roped in as the current manager of the team. He has managed Racing Santander and Valladolid before.F

FC Goa

  • Team name: FC Goa
  • Location: Goa
  • Home ground: Fatorda Stadium, Goa (19,500)
  • Seasons: 4
  • Highest finish: Runners-up (2015)
  • Manager: Sergio Lobera

FC Goa’s owners are Goan Football Club Pvt. Ltd and consists of Indian cricketer Virat Kohli among others. Brazilian footballer Zico was the inaugural manager and Robert Pires has been a marquee player before.

After having managed the club for three seasons, Zico won’t be with the Kerala Blasters anymore. Instead, the club has signed Sergio Lobera Rodriguez on a two-year contract.

FC Pune City

  • Team name: FC Pune City
  • Location: Pune, Maharashtra
  • Home ground: Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex (11,900)
  • Seasons: 4
  • Highest finish: 6th (2014, 2106)
  • Manager: Ranko Popović

The owners of the club are the Rajesh Wadhawan Group. ‘Live to Win’ is the motto of the club.

In 2016, FC Pune City was the only professional football club in the country to have teams in all levels – U-14, U-16, U-18, ISL and a women’s team – and are matched by none.

FC Pune City has been among the worst performers in the Indian Super League and will be aiming to at least make the semi-finals this time around.

Jamshedpur FC

  • Team name: Jamshedpur FC
  • Location: Jamshedpur, Jharkhand
  • Home ground: JRD Tata Sports Complex (60,000)
  • Seasons: Debut
  • Highest finish: N/A
  • Manager: Steve Coppell

Jamshedpur FC is among the newest professional football clubs in the country. 12 May 2017 is the day the club was established. This was when Tata Steel was successful in its bid for one of the expansion slots in the ISL. The club is owned by Tata Steel which is a subsidiary of the Tata Group.

Steve Coppell is the first-ever head coach of the club. Coppell had, in 2016, led the Kerala Blasters to the final.

Kerala Blasters FC

  • Team name: Kerala Blasters FC
  • Location: Kochi, Kerala
  • Home ground: Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi (61,148)
  • Seasons: 4
  • Highest finish: Runners-up (2014, 2016)
  • Manager: René Meulensteen

The club, established on 24 May 2014, had a fruitful first season in the Indian football domestic scene. The team whose majority stakeholder is former cricket Sachin Tendulkar finished runners-up of the inaugural season of the ISL.

The team also made the finals in the 2016 season. Both times though, they lost to ATK.

Former Manchester United & Sunderland defender will be the biggest name to grace the Kerala Blasters this season. Iain Hume is one of the other foreigners with a huge reputation behind him having played for Leicester City, Preston North End and the Canadian national team.

Mumbai City FC

  • Team name: Mumbai City FC
  • Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra
  • Home ground: Mumbai Football Arena, Andheri (18,000)
  • Seasons: 4
  • Highest finish: Semi-finals (2016)
  • Manager: Alexandre Guimarães

Alexandre Guimarães, who coached the team to the semi-finals in the 2016 season will continue with Mumbai City FC for another season. The first two seasons saw the club play at the DY Patil Stadium, Thereafter, their home ground was shifted to the Mumbai Football Arena.

Nicolas Anelka has been one of the famous foreigners to have donned the clubs’ jersey. With Ranbir Kapoor as one of the co-owners, one can expect another season full of ardent support for the club.

NorthEast United FC

  • Team name: NorthEast United FC
  • Location: Guwahati, Assam
  • Home ground: Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati (23,850)
  • Seasons: 4
  • Highest finish: 5th (2015 & 2016)
  • Manager: João de Deus

Owned by Bollywood actor and ambassador for football in India John Abraham, NorthEast United haven’t exactly performed to their expectations in the Indian Super League. NorthEast United are the only club not to be owned by a company or corporation.

The club claims to represent all 8 states - Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Mizoram – of the North East.

First published: 16 November 2017, 18:54 IST
 
Sahil Bhalla @IMSahilBhalla

Sahil is a correspondent at Catch. A gadget freak, he loves offering free tech support to family and friends. He studied at Sarah Lawrence College, New York and worked previously for Scroll. He selectively boycotts fast food chains, worries about Arsenal, and travels whenever and wherever he can. Sahil is an unapologetic foodie and a film aficionado.

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