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India’s ISL became world football’s fourth biggest league


ISL became world football’s fourth biggest league

ISL attendances behind only England, Germany and Spain.

Atletico de Kolkata

A goal by Mohammed Rafique in the dying seconds of the final won the Indian Super League title for Atlético de Kolkata in what is now the fourth highest attended league in the world.

The opening game drew 65,000 supporters to Atlético de Kolkata’s ground, the Salt Lake Stadium, for the match against Mumbai City. That game was also watched on TV by 74.7m, and the league as a whole had ratings of 170.6m in the first week. The figures for the first phase of this year’s Indian Premier League cricket was 184m.


Atletico de Kolkata prevail over FC Goa; advance to final

Atletico de Kolkata got their act right in the nick of time to humble crowd favourites FC Goa 4-2 in tie-breaker and advance to the final of the inaugural Indian Super League (ISL) football.

Atletico de Kolkata will lock horns with Kerala Blasters FC in the summit showdown at the D Y Patil Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday.

The second leg semifinal between the two fierce rivals went into extra time after they were locked goal-less in the regulation time. With both teams failing to break the deadlock even in the 30 minutes of extra time, the game was decided via penalty shootout in which the visitors emerged winners.

The first leg semifinal between the two sides in Kolkata had ended in a goal-less stalemate.

Things panned out pretty much in the same manner before the Sourav Ganguly co-owned side edged past the hosts on penalties after playing out yet another drab draw in the 120 minutes of play.

While they failed to score in regulation and extra time, Atletico de Kolkata’s Josemi, Mohammed Rafi, Jofre Mateu and Borja Fernandez were bang on target when it mattered most at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

For the Goa outfit, Andre Santos’s spot-kick sailed over the bar while Haroon Amiri’s effort struck the upright. Tolgay Ozbey and Clifford Miranda successfully converted but that was not enough.

Bruno Pinheiro returned from suspension for the home side while coach Zico also included Peter Carvalho in his starting XI. The duo replaced the injured Narayan Das and Youness Bengelloun.

Atletico de Kolkata coach Antonio Lopez Habas made two changes, bringing in Arnab Mondal and Baljit Sahni, who was coming off a one-game suspension. The visitors, though, were without Fikru Teferra.

The visitors had the first chance of the game when Jakub Podany was brought down by Gregory Arnolin, but the resultant free-kick by Josemi was off target.

The home side had its share of chances too when Debabrata Roy laid one for Andre Santos at the far post in the seventh minute. The Brazilian pulled the ball back which was deflected by Ofentse Nato for Romeo Fernandes, but the Indian winger’s effort found the side-netting.


NorthEast United thrash leaders Chennaiyin FC 3-0

NorthEast United pumped in three first half goals in a rampaging show to drub table toppers Chennaiyin FC 3-0 in an absorbing Hero Indian Super League match to keep their hopes of a semifinal berth alive on Thursday.

Senegalese defender Massamba Lo Sambou scored twice (21st and 23rd) in the space of two minutes after Assmamese Durga Boro struck in the 10th minute to consolidate his status as one of the domestic finds of the tournament in front of a packed crowd at the Indira Gandhi Stadium.

With nearly 30,000 home supporters cheering their club, NorthEast were ahead 3-0 in the 23rd minute and they denied the table leaders from Chennai to score any goal to notch up their first win in seven matches.

Chennaiyin did most of the attacking with more shots on goal but they could not find the target. Even NorthEast marquee player Joan Capdevila’s expulsion in the 72nd minute after his second yellow card did not lead to any goal from Chennaiyin as the home side guarded their citadel well.

Before Thursday’s victory, NorthEast have not won a match since their 2-0 away defeat of Mumbai on October 24. Since then, they have lost three and drawn three matches before today’s win.

After Thursday’s win, NorthEast have jumped to fifth spot with 13 points from 11 matches while Chennaiyin remained on top of league table with 19 points from 11 matches.

Chennaiyin will now feel the pressure what with Atletico de Kolkata hot on their heels with 16 points from 10 matches.

Chennaiyin head down south to Kochi for a game against Kerala Blasters FC on November 30 while NorthEast travel to Goa for their next fixture on December 1.

NorthEast were on the ball right from the word go. They pegged the visitors back in their own half with their passing and speed of movement, particularly down the flanks.

The home fans did not have to wait long to see their team go in front, when Eric Djemba-Djemba’s headed clearance hit Seiminlen Doungel and fell kindly for Durga Boro in the 10th minute.

The Assamese striker was in the right place at the right time and pounced on the opportunity and finished past a charging Gennaro Bracigliano.

That opened the floodgates and some 10 minutes later Sambou got two goals in quick succession, both from set pieces, one a corner, and the other a free kick.

The latter was a beautifully floated in curler from Koke which saw Sambou rise majestically over his markers and head it powerfully across the goal and into the far corner of the net.

Both goals came in a space of two minutes and NorthEast were three goals ahead in the 23rd minute after managing to score just one goal in the last three games.

The match had a lot of heated moments as the visitors felt the pressure getting to them, but surprisingly, they were the team that ended the game with 11 men, as NorthEast marquee player Capdevila was sent off in the 72nd minute after his second booking.

Kerala Blasters beat Delhi Dynamos 1-0

Delhi Dynamos extended their dismal run in the Hero Indian Super League as they lost by a solitary goal to Kerala Blasters to remain at the bottom of the table and put themselves in a difficult position to qualify for the semifinals on Sunday.

Second half substitute Penn Orji scored the all-important goal in the 61st minute as Kerala notched up their third win in nine matches to jump to third spot in the league standings.

Delhi made as many as half a dozen changes in their starting line up from the one that lost 1-4 against FC Goa in their last match here, with captain Alessandro Del Piero taking the field after sitting out of a match but it was same old story for the home side as they slumped to their fourth loss in the tournament at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

It turned out to be another disappointing day for Delhi as their frontmen continued with their inability to score goals but Del Piero had his best day on the field since the start of the league.

The final pass or the final strike never came. Del Piero was at the thick of things with his free-kicks, corner kicks and a few fine passes but all went abegging.

Del Piero had flashes of his old trickery but did not result to any success. He sent Malsawmtluanga on the clear with a fine pass in the 27th minute but the Indian midfielder failed to control the ball properly under pressure from a defender.

The Italian legend was on the verge of scoring his first goal of the tournament but his running header in the 39th minute off a fine cross from the right by Junker.

But, teammate Adil Khan, who was also going for the ball, stood in the way and blocked it, unintentionally though. The ball went towards the right corner and was cleared by defender Cedric Hengbart.

Needing a win to keep themselves in contention for a semifinal berth, both sides showed their attacking intent by pushing the defensive line high and it was a battle of midfield superiority.

There was not much to separate between the two with clear chances not coming either way and Orji’s strike made the difference to the disappointment of the sizable home supporters who turned up on Sunday.

With Sunday’s loss, their fourth in five matches, Delhi remained at the bottom of the eight-team league standings with seven points from mine matches. They have just tasted one win.

Kerala jumped to third spot with 12 points from nine matches, though they have played one more match than the six remaining teams.

Delhi suffered a jolt by the halftime as key central defender Wim Raymaekers was injured and was replaced by Stijn Houben.

The second half saw Delhi giving away spaces for Kerala attackers and the visitors struck just past the hour mark with in-form Penn Orji finding the target five minutes after coming on to the field in place of Raphael Romey in the 56th minute.

Souvik Chakraborty gave away the ball at his own Delhi half and after an interchange with Iain Hume, Orji sent the ball past keeper Kristof Van Hout with a depth placement to the celebration of Kerala supporters among the sizeable crowd at the stadium.

It could have been 2-0 for Kerala four minutes later, but Gonsalves Milagres hit Van Hout’s trailing leg in front of Delhi goal.

Earlier, Delhi made six changes from their last match starting eleven with Del Piero taking the place of Gustavo Dos Santos while Mads Junker taking the place of Morten Skoubo upfront.

Shylo Malsawmtluanga, Pavel Elias and Souvik Chakraborty took the field in place of Robert Lalthlamuana, Bruno Herrero and Steven Dias at the midfield while Adil Khan came in for Naoba Singh.

Kerala Blasters fail to unlock stingy Mumbai defence in 0-0 draw

It was another case of crucial points dropped at home as Kerala Blasters played out a frustrating 0-0 draw against Mumbai City FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

The hosts dominated the match but just like in previous games, couldn’t get their finishing right. The Mumbai defense put up another impressive performance and Subrata Paul was again at his best — the team has now kept four cleansheets in a row.

Mumbai City made two changes to the starting eleven from the last match as midfielder Lalrindika Ralte replaced Nadong Bhutia while Tiago Ribeiro came in for the injured Andre Moritz.

At the other end, Kerala Blasters made a host of changes with Colin Falvey, Milagres Gonsalves, Raphael Romey, Godwin Franco and CS Sabeeth replacing Nirmal Chettri, Ishfaq Ahmad, Andrew Barisic, Iain Hume and Avinabo in the starting eleven. Iain Hume started on the bench but even his introduction for the final third couldn’t unlock Mumbai’s resilient back four.

It was the hosts that got off to a good start as they created a chance as early as the fourth minute when Penn Orji delivered a delicious cross to Cedric Hengbart which the defender headed over the crossbar. A minute later, Sabeeth released Milagres into the box from the left but Pavel Cmovs put in a brilliant last ditch tackle to deny the forward.

Kerala were quite a force when they poured forward — and they came close to scoring again in the seventh minute when Milagres headed a knock-down from Sabeeth from which Mumbai keeper Subrata Paul made a point blank save. Orji smashed the rebound but it took a deflection for a corner.

Mumbai started finding a foothold as the game settled down amidst unexpected rains. Kerala were playing a high backline with the full backs bustling forward into attack, but Mumbai couldn’t exploit the spaces out wide with Sandesh Jinghan a constant thorn in their forays forward.

Unable to build their way towards goal, Mumbai were reduced to threaten only from the distance but didn’t trouble Kerala until the dying minutes when Tiago Ribeiro’s volley came off the post.

The Kerala defense had done well to keep Anelka quiet for the first thirty minutes and the Frenchman’s first real contribution came in the 34th minute when he ran past three defenders and unleashed a shot from outside the box but some good defending by the centre backs saw the shot deflected for a corner.

Both the teams started the second half in positive fashion, three minutes after the restart, Orji seared forward and threaded through the ball to Pearson who made a great run inside the box but again, it was that man Cmovs who made the interception to deflect it away.

Moments later, a delicious ball over the top sent Anelka clear but David James charged out of his box to clear it away.

Kerala came close to scoring ten minutes into the second half, after a string of headers inside the box, the ball fell to Orji who put too much power into the shot to blast it over.

Both the teams made their first change as Sushil Singh replaced Lalrindika Ralte for Mumbai while Penn Oriji was substituted for Iain Hume who got a splendid reception from the home crowd.

The Blasters were whipping in some delightful crosses but as seen earlier, Subrata Paul’s anticipation was up to the mark and crucially, he was able to thwart those attacks. A moment of madness could have cost Kerala when Milagres deflected an inviting cross from Sabeeth inside the box with his hand but it went unnoticed with the referee.

The game came to life when Mumbai came the closest to scoring in the 76th minute when Tiago’s volley from a poor clearance hit the post and then Friedrich’s header off a corner went straight to James.

Kerala Blasters then upped the ante in search of an equaliser and in the final seconds of the game, Raphael Romey’s weak header was saved by Subrata.

Kerala Blasters clearly looked disappointed with the result as they trudged off the field in disappointment. Earlier, just before the kick-off, Kerala Blasters co-owner and Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar felicitated the CISF personell.

Delhi Dynamos play out yet another draw against Kerala Blasters

Delhi Dynamos continued with their winless streak as they played out a goalless draw against Kerala Blasters in a high-intensity Indian Super League match on Sunday.

After their back-to-back defeats at the hands of FC Goa and Mumbai City FC, Delhi Dynamos were searching for a win to boost their confidence but yet again had to settle for a draw in the match which also saw their head coach Harm van Veldhoven being sent off.

The Dutch coach was given marching orders by Indian referee Pranjal Banerjee for kicking the ball at the sidelines as he expressed his frustration apparently after a free kick was denied in the 74th minute of the match watched by nearly 35,000 crowd at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Delhi side’s birthday boy Alessandro Del Piero made the starting eleven but the Italian legend, who turns 40 today, continued his search for form as he could not make much of an impact in the match.

He was involved in a few goal-bound moves but ended up being booked in the 37th minute. He was substituted in the 72nd minute by Pavel Elias.

Both teams played attacking football though there were not many goal-scoring chances. Their defences held firm with the match turning out to be a battle of midfield supremacy.

With the draw, their fourth in the tournament so far, Delhi Dynamos remained on seventh spot in the eight-team league table with seven points from seven matches. They have won just one match and lost twice. They have not won for four matches on the trot.

Kerala Blasters are just above the Delhi side at sixth spot with eight points from seven matches. They have won twice, drawn twice and lost thrice.

The match got off to a lively start with both teams getting immediately into attack mode. Delhi settled into their passing game, while Kerala drove forward with pace.

The home side were nearly gifted a goal when the visitors gave away possession just outside their own box. Their keeper Kristof Van Hout and defender Shouvik Ghosh, however, saved the situation. Van Hout got a hand on Stephen Pearson’s cutback and Ghosh was there to clear the ball.

The lanky Dynamos custodian Van Hout rescued his team again in the 22nd minute, making a save at full stretch after Andrew Barisic’s cross popped up off defender Adil Khan, with Iain Hume’s follow-up header hitting the outside of the post.

Kerala were dominant at that stage and even had the ball in the net through Barisic, but it was ruled out for an offside in the build-up.

Delhi, however, weathered the storm and began to see more of the ball. They soon had a chance with Mads Junker firing a point-blank header directly at Kerala keeper David James.

The game became more end-to-end, but the half ended scoreless.

The second half started with the teams trading possession. Delhi came closest to scoring, with birthday boy Del Piero’s flicked header sending Robert Lalthamuana through on goal, but while his chip beat keeper James, it was well wide of the post.

Kerala coach Trevor Morgan made his intentions clear when he brought on striker Milagres Gonsalves on to join Barisic and Hume in a three-pronged attack. But there were still no clear chances for either side, although Delhi went close through Bruno Arias.

Kerala and Delhi continued to probe each other in search of an opening goal, and there were promising moments at either end.

The visitors nearly snatched the winner when substitute Pavel Elias had a free header from a corner, but his effort was wide. It was to be the last action of a closely-fought match.

Delhi play FC Goa at home on November 13 while Kerala’s next fixture is a home match against Mumbai City FC on November 12.

Kerala Blasters made three changes from their previous match starting line-up, with Nirmal Chettri, Iain Hume and Andrew Barisic coming in for CS Sabeeth, Colin Falvey and Raphael Romey.

Delhi Dynamos, on the other hand, made four changes by bringing in del Piero, Hans Mulder, Adil Khan and Robert Lalthlamuana for Gulstave dos Santos, Pavel Elias, Steven Dias and Souvik Chakraborthy.

Delhi draw 0-0 against NorthEast United

Delhi has not been the safest of cities for those from the north-east of the country. Perhaps it never was. From the murder of Nido Taniam of Arunachal Pradesh early this year, to the recent attack on Nagaland youngsters in neighbouring Gurgaon, most crimes, if not all, had a good dose of racial overtones to it.

So in hindsight, the goalless draw played out by Delhi Dynamos and NorthEast United at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium was god sent.

For the city’s sizeable number of students from north-eastern states like Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi’s ugly side of prejudice is intimidating. There are reports that, with all the hate crimes, youngsters from the north-east states think twice before venturing out at night. But on Wednesday, they were out there in the stands in large numbers.

Indian league gets off to strong start with FIFA endorsement

Indian Super League (ISL) can wake the world’s second most populous nation from its football slumber but the first week of the eight-team competition has at least made people sit up and take notice.

Some 70,000 fans thronged the Salt Lake Stadium in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata for last Sunday’s spectacular opening ceremony and the social media has been abuzz with discussions about the league with celebrity owners, experienced foreign managers and a sprinkling of high-profile players.

Not a bad start in a cricket-obsessed country of 1.2 billion, which ranks an embarrassing 158th and was described as football’s ‘sleeping giant’ by FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke was at hand to watch Alessandro Del Piero’s Delhi franchise play out a goalless draw against David Trezeguet’s Pune on Tuesday and he liked the level of enthusiasm.

“What was nice last night is the sound, it was amazing,” Valcke later said of his experience at the capital’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

“(I witnessed) How strong was the support of the fans in the stadium, how they supported the teams, how they supported whenever there was a change of player, how they supported Del Piero when he came in.

“That’s football. That’s when you feel yes, football has its place in India. Yesterday you saw a culture of football here.”

The first week of the tournament has also seen packed stadiums at other venues and the trend is expected to continue after the West Indies cricket team abruptly called off their tour of India on Friday following their internal dispute.

“It’s not a question of competing with cricket but I think India is big enough to have a second sport and football is strong enough to become the second sport in India,” Valcke said.

Bankrolled by India’s Reliance Industries, Rupert Murdoch’s Star India and sports management group IMG, the ISL has welcomed former cricket greats Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, as well as current captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, among the team owners.

The league’s strong start has fuelled fears that it might eclipse the national league but the All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel assured I-League will remain the country’s only league.

“I-Legaue is the league of India. This (ISL) is a tournament which brings more attention and extra popularity, it’s like a booster dose,” Patel said.

“I can assure you that a number of ISL clubs would also like to progress into I-League eventually. I think it’s a good beginning.”

Co-owned by La Liga champions Atletico Madrid, the Kolkata team, with Spaniard Luis Garcia as their marquee player, currently top the table having won both their games so far.

The demand for ISL tickets is in stark contrast to the I-League and Arthur Papas, deputy coach of the Goa franchise, had no hesitation in admitting it having been involved in both.

“I’ve been in this country for two and a half years playing in national leagues and I-League, but I haven’t felt this sense of excitement about a competition before,” said the Australian who coaches Dempo in the I-League.

Shining Stars of Indian Football Super League

  1. Syed Rahim Nabi – Mumbai City FC

Syed Rahim Nabi a 28 year, popularly known as Nabi is a professional Indian football player who primarily plays as a midfielder though he can play as a striker and defender. He plays for Mohammedan S.C. and now is shining in Indian Super League. Now  today he is named as skipper of Indian Super League side Mumbai City Football Club ahead of the tournament lung opener against Atletico de Kolkata on Sunday. 

His Achievements:

Nabi is one of the more successful Indian footballers of this generation. For the National team, he’s won three Nehru Cup titles, one AFC Challenge Cup (2008) and the SAFF Championship (2011). On the domestic front he has won several major trophies like the Federation Cup and the Super Cup. The I-League has consistently evaded him.

  1. Gouramangi Singh – Chennaiyin FC:

Moirangthem Gouramangi Singh is an Indian professional association football player who plays as a center back for Club Chennai (ISL) team.

Gouramangi first rose to prominence when he captained the winning Indian team (Under 18) at the Ian Rush Trophy in 2003. He played in the Olympic qualifiers for the Indian U-23 team where his defending allowed India to earn an unlikely 1–1 draw with the Iraq U-23 team. On 28 July 2011 Singh scored an important goal for India in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against the United Arab Emirates but it did not help as India were knocked out 5–2 on aggregate

His Achievements:

  • For India, Gouramangi has two SAFF Championships,

  • 1 AFC Challenge Cup

  • 2 Nehru Cups under his belt.

  • In 2010, the year he was named AIFF’s Footballer of the year

  1. Mehtab Hossain – Kerala Blasters:

Mehtab Hussain (born 13 October 1985) is an Indian footballer who plays for East Bengal Club and Kerala Blasters FC. He plays in midfield position. Hossain has represented India several times. Hossain is the anchor-man in midfield, as he has proved successfully for both club and country. He is dubbed by his fans as the Claude Makelele of Indian football for his ability to break up opposition attacks with his fearless tackling ability and an unending commitment on the pitch. Mehtab is expected to assume a similar role in the Kerala Blasters setup.

His Achievements:

  • Won Federation Cup on several occasions besides IFA Shield and other trophies at domestic level.

  • Winner, Nehru Cup 2012.

  • Has been voted FPAI best Indian player of the season, best midfielder, fans player of the year etc.

  1. Subrata Pal – Mumbai City FC

Subrata has played for India at all age groups. He rose to prominence with the Under-23 team in the Pre-Olympic qualifiers where he pulled off 3 saves in a crucial penalty shootout against Myanmar hence enabling India to qualify for the Group stage. In the group stages his goalkeeping abilities helped India pull off an unexpected draw at home against the formidable Iraq.

In 2007 he replaced Sandip Nandy as the Indian Senior Team’s number 1 for the Nehru Cup in 2007 where he was adjudged the best goalkeeper in a competitive field which included the likes of Mosab Balhous.

His Achievements:

  • Nehru Cup 2007
     India defeated Syria by a 1–0 margin to win the tournament for the first time. Indian team coach Bob Houghton said that “Subrata Pal was splendid in the goal
  • AFC Challenge Cup 2008
    He was part of the victorious Indian National team in the AFC Challenge Cup 2008. His important saves especially in the finals helped India qualify for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup for the first time in 24 years.
  • Nehru Cup 2009
    He was also part of the victorious Indian National team in the Nehru Cup International Football Tournament 2009 . Due to his keeping, India won the final match 5–3 on penalties
  • AFC Asian Cup 2011
    He was the goalkeeper for the Indian football Team in the AFC Asian Cup 2011. He made more than 35 saves in the whole tournament and has become one of the stars of the team since.
  • World Cup 2014 Qualifiers
    He was also the first choice goalkeeper for India in their World Cup Qualifier match against United Arab Emirates national football team.

Atletico de Kolkata stay ahead with second win

Ten-man Atletico de Kolkata registered their second consecutive win at the Indian Super League (ISL), beating hosts NorthEast United FC 2-0 at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in Guwahati on Thursday.
Ethiopian striker Fikru Lemessa and Czech Republic midfielder Jakub Podany scored for the visiting team, who consolidated their position at the top of the standings with six points from two matches. However, the game also witnessed the first red card of the ISL, with Spaniard Borja Fernandez — who had scored a stunning goal in the opening game for Kolkata — being shown his second yellow card in the 84th minute for a silly challenge on Leo Bertos.
Kolkata led 1-0 at halftime through a superbly-taken goal by Fikru in the 13th minute — his second goal in as many matches.
The ball was masterly chipped over the NorthEast defence by Kolkata’s ‘marquee’ player Luis Garcia and the chested it before volleying it into the net.
Spanish imports Jofre Mateu Gonzalez and Borja came close to scoring, bringing out some fantastic saves from the NorthEast goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas, who was kept busy throughout the first half.
Atletico could have extended their lead had the upright not come in the way. Jofre’s cleverly-taken corner was nodded towards the goal by Botswana midfielder Ofentse Natobut but the ball rebounded off the right post.
The second half was, however, more evenly contest with both teams trying to score and constructing attacks at frantic pace.
NorthEast came close to equalising with Joan Capdevilla tapping the ball in the goal in the 70th minute from close range but he was adjudged offside.
As the match wore on, NorthEast asserted their supremacy. Atletico were forced to back off and that pressure forced Borja, who was booked earlier, to commit a needless foul in the 84th minute.
NorthEast committed more men forward but were left vulnerable at the back and Atletico capitalised on the open spaces left behind by their opponents in the final minute of regulation time, executing a swift counter-attack that was converted smartly by an unmarked Jakub to confirm the verdict.