Indian Super League Season 2 : The Teams

Published 10/03/2015, 7:08 AM EDT

The wait is over! The second season of the Hero Indian Super League begins today and the whole nation is dripping with excitement. As the teams and fans gear up for a few weeks of absolute football, EssentiallySports takes a look at the teams and the players to watch out for in this brand new season.

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The first season of the Hero Indian Super League became a huge success, exceeding most people’s expectations. Thousands of fans crowded the stadiums, cheering in unison as the sport of football was given a new lease of life in the country.

The ISL was always a long-term project. Indian football could never reach its full potential overnight. This was the beginning of gradual development in the country’s young athletes. With emphasis given on Grassroots Development, the ISL has begun a new and exciting chapter in Indian football.

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This season, the Indian Super League promises to be even more exciting and exhilarating, with loads of top quality players coming in. The likes of India’s very own captain Sunil Chhetri has joined the League this time around and with an influx of a lot more experienced foreign nationals, the Indian Super League is bound to be spectacle worth watching. It may not have the quality of the top leagues in the world, but it can certainly match the passion from both players and fans.

So journey with EssentiallySports, as we take you through the Indian Super League season 2. First up, the teams. Want to know who has bought whom? Who will star this year? Here’s everything you need to know about the 8 teams.

1. Atletico de Kolkata

“When you win, You’re expected to win every single time.”

This is what is currently happening in the Atletico de Kolkata Camp and boy, have they taken it seriously!

Pre-Season

4 wins in 4 pre-season friendlies in Spain just shows the boost of confidence they possess in their skin at the moment and they will definitely be hoping to win a lot more as the season starts soon.

The Squad

ATK has been fairly easy and simple at the market. Acquiring last season’s Player of the Season Iain Hume from the team they beat in the Final, Kerala Blasters as one of their predominant signings for Indian Super League Season 2.

Declaring Helder Postiga as their marqee player and buying Ex-Indian International Arata Izumi in the Auctions gave the team from the land of roshogollas a very well base to play on.

Retaining 7 players from the last season, including 3 foreigners, ATK looks solid in all three departments, only missing out on having a solid personnel in between the woodwork can somehow dent their run in the midway.

Acquiring the signatures of Amrinder Singh from Pune FC for 4.5 Lakhs making him the costliest defender yet in ISL, could be a way out.

Final Verdict – 2nd

An over all good Ideology implemented by Coach Antonio Lopez Habas and a good show of leadership by all the senior members in the squad. But EssentiallySports believes that ATK is gonna miss the services of Edel Bete between the goal posts but it won’t really hamper the run into the top 4. EssentiallySports predicts a strong 2nd place finish for the men in Red and White. #FatafatiFootball

2. Kerala Blasters FC

The men in yellow suffered a heartbreaking defeat in last season’s final against Atletico de Kolkata thanks to a 95th minute winner. The Sachin Tendulkar owned side will be looking to continue their good success from last season and complete the final hurdle as well.

The Squad

When last season’s Coach cum Marquee Player David James decided not to continue with the Blasters, former England U-20 manager Peter Taylor has been brought in to replace him. Taylor brings a lot of experience to the table, having managed a host of English league clubs, since 1986, almost 30 years ago.

The biggest issue for the Kerala Blasters is that most of their star players from the first season have left the club. Top scorer and Player of the Season Iain Hume has joined the team who beat them in the final, Atletico de Kolkata. Similarly, Pearson and Michael Chopra have also left.

The biggest signing however, is in the form of World Cup winner Carlos Marchena. The Spanish center back will be their marquee signing and along with last year’s biggest rising star Sandesh Jhingan, can account for a strong backline for the Blasters.

They have signed a few more foreign stars, notably 24-year old Sanchez Watt, who is a product of the Arsenal Youth Academy. Cavin Lobo and Mohammad Rafi were among the players who were picked up in the Auctions.

Final Verdict – 7th

Since a lot of their past stars have gone and also with a new coach, the Kerala Blasters might find it hard to achieve last year’s success. So, we’ve predicted a last place finish for them. But in a tournament where anything is possible, the football crazy state of Kerala and their fans can definitely turn it around.

3. Chennaiyin FC

Chennayin FC has been one of the most popular and looked at teams for the second season of Indian Super League.

After making it to the top 4 of the ISL season 1, It was a shame when Elano’s beloved team didn’t make it to the finals losing to southern rivals in extra time, thanks to Pearson’s 117th minute goal which is yet considered as one of the best moments of last year.

Chennayin FC managed to make it to the history books last season with valiant Balwant Singh becoming the first Indian to ever score in the Indian Super League and Elano Blumer Scoring a magnificent 8 goals in his premier ISL plaging to injuries in the later half of the season.

Pre-Season

This season has somewhat been on the similar lines for Chennayin FC as it has been last season. Going to Italy for pre-season along with Marco Materrazzi holding the line in the coaching department.

The Squad

Retaining Balwant Singh, Jayesh Rane, Dhanachandra Singh, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Harmanjot Khabra and Abhishek Das. And then adding to the reinforcement, they also signed Godwin Franco and Mehrajuddin Wadoo.

Also adding on to the list is the talisman Fikru who joins the Chennayin after showing his class in the Red and White of Kolkata last season, will be a good strike force with Balwant Singh and Bernard Mendy in the front three.

Along with new players, adding to the money bank, Nike signed as the official kit sponsors for 2015 season which would add up to the effective budget for the team on the whole.

Final Verdict – 6th

Pretty much sticking to the core as they were in the last season might help but the fact doesn’t change that other teams have worked extensively hard to make their side a star studded one. It would be hard for Chennayin to cope up with the pressure as well. Perhaps a 6th place finish is what we at EssentiallySports expect from them. Not their season this time. Sorry Chennayin Fans!

4. Delhi Dynamos

After a disappointing season in the inaugural Indian Super League, the Dynamos have actually worked in favour of the club and the city this season. Pulling all the correct strings this season was the primary aim for the club and the new management did exactly that!

The Squad

Capturing the likes of Florent Malouda and John Arne Riise in their roster and bolstering their squad with the fan favorite Robin Singh, The Dynamos look to beat the most of their opponents with their firepower in all their flanks.

Completing the squad is with the enigmatic Roberto Carlos as their player cum manager who looks a bit out of shape to be back on the field, but looks to bring all his wealth of experience to all the players who are looking at the opportunity to leave their marks on the international platform.

Final Verdict – 3rd

Great depth, Awesome Formation, Kick-Ass Manager and a Cool Captain. Delhi has it all to break it to the top 4. We don’t expect the pinnacle finish for the team from national capital, but they might challenge for the trophy! League finish: 3rd.

5. North East United FC

Well It has been a tough year for the Highlanders with their coach terminating his contract with the club along with their best player last season and EssentiallySports believe that it might be a crazy different season for NorthEast United FC.

Pre-Season

NEUFC come back from fairly strong Preseason tour in South Africa, winning two out of three games, The Highlanders look decent on the field and filled with confidence overall. Breaking out more than three goals in both their wins just shows their persona and the discipline they are taking into ISL-2.

The Squad

Although the highlanders are going to terribly miss their core member Koke this season who joined Veria in the nation of Greece, adding in reinforcements in the likes of former Portuguese International Simao and Mtonga may prove valuable on the field.

Retaining their star goalkeeper Rehenesh TP this season as well was a very influential move on their part as the young keeper has shown ability to be the best out of the national lot in the recently concluded I-League where he donned the infamous jersey of Shillong Lajong.

Final Verdict – 8th

North East United FC will go into the season as relative underdogs and will find it hard to make it to the knockout stages. John Abraham’s side needs to get strong mentally and work as a well-drilled team if they are to please their brilliant fans, who were voted the loudest from last season. We believe they would have to do extraordinarily well to get into the Top 4 and we predict them to miss the cut.

6. FC Goa

FC Goa were one of the most impressive sides from last season, enjoying a brilliant run of victories in the latter half of last season. They narrowly missed out on a spot in the Final, losing to eventual winners Atletico de Kolkata in a penalty shootout.

The Squad

The Ex-Portuguese colony on the Indian western shores has gone complete crazy on samba this season, with 6 samba boys in the provisional line up.

The Goan Franchise spearheaded by the brains of World famous Brazilian Number 10, Zico as their coach looks to impress with their fast paced football with elegance and powerhitting to finish it all.

Having a rather peculiar Preseason in the Emirates, Zico’s boys definitely lack confidence on and off the field.

Definitely having depth in the squad, FC Goa even in season 1 lacked a certified Number 9 on their team sheet. There was never a lack of goals although,  but the team missed a go to man for goals in every game they played in ISL-1.

Trying to gap these holes in the team sheet this time, Zico has automatically looked back at the Mecca of football for support and pulling in 6 Brazilians in the squad to fulfil the potential. Good Move Zico.

Final Verdict – 5th

A good hardcore team. Having so many Brazilians will show only one strategy in the team, “Never give up!”. You can expect FC Goa to play their hearts out for 90 minutes straight. We at EssentiallySports believe they might fail to win the title but they definitely will win the hearts. Final Standing: 5th.

7. Mumbai City FC

Aamchi Mumbai people! Mumbai City FC  looks like the team to beat on paper and we at ES believes that MCFC will be the team to beat on field as well.

The Squad

Perhaps one of the most popular and undermined signings of ISL 2 in the Auctions – Sunil Chhetri. He not only brings class to the star studded Mumbai City Squad, but also brings in a lot of confidence and persona to the team. The Indian Captain always remains the fans favourite wherever he plays and perhaps will be cheered in every stadium where Mumbai plays.

Although MCFC may miss out on the services of Indian internationals which make the majority of Mumbai’s side due to world cup qualifiers, Mumbai City FC has been instrumental in filling those voids when time it is required.

With the Inclusion of Marqee player cum manager Nicolas Anelka also in decent form, and retaining the services of great players like Andre Moritz and Subrata Paul for another season. Mumbai City FC looks like the perfect mixture of present and the past for a better future.

Also on the cards is young indian sensation Brandon Fernandes who after a long stint at ASD Cape Town looks to break into the National Squad and won’t find a better opportunity then this.

Final Verdict – 1st

A very progressive side. A very synchronous ideology provided by the team development and the players. And including the greats of Anelka, Chhetri, Paul and Moritz and some new talents like Fernandes and Sony Norde who was the talisman responsible for Mohan Bagan’s Successful I-League campaign, We predict the top spot for Mumbai City FC this season in ISL. Mumbaikars have something to celebrate upon this season after a disappointment last time.

8. Pune City FC

Hrithik Roshan’s ‘The Orange Army’ are definitely among the favourites to do well this season. Pune City FC had a disappointing campaign last time out, finishing 6th in the Group Stage. They have done some good business over the summer and are confidence is certainly high in the team.

The Squad

Pune City were one of the most impressive performers in the ISL Draft and Auctions, with many key signings. The standout names are Jackichand Singh, who was awarded the Player of the Season in last season’s I-League and Eugeneson Lyngdoh, who was awarded the Midfielder of the Year.

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In addition to such amazing Indian recruits, Pune City have also brought in many recognizable foreign names. The biggest signing would be that of former Chelsea and Juventus striker Adrian Mutu. The Romanian has signed as their marquee player for this season of the Indian Super League. Mutu is Romania’s joint all time top scorer with 35 goals.

In addition, Pune have added many former Premier League stars like Turkish striker Tuncay Sanli, who enjoyed a couple of successful years in the Premier League with Middlesbrough. They have also signed former Tottenham player Didier Zokora, who will be their captain. Former Reading defender Nicky Shorey is also a notable name.

As for their coach, they have brought in former England international and England U-21 coach David Platt for this season. Platt is well known for scoring a last minute Extra Time winner in the 1990 World Cup Round of 16.

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Final Verdict – 4th

With a new rejuvenated squad, Pune City FC are strong contenders for the title and we predict them to make it to the knockout stages.

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Siddhant Mukerjee

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