The Indian Super league kicked off last night with Peter Reid’s Mumbai City losing 3-0 to Atletico de Kolkata. The ten-week, eight-team tournament is a new venture in Indian football designed to kick-start an Indian Football Revolution.
Key players from yesteryear such as Del Piero, Robert Pires and Elano have been brought in. Money is in the air and financiers are desperate for success.
Following the kick off of the ISL on Sunday we discuss five major talking points.
1) The ISL Marquee Signings Would Make a Great Fantasy XI…. Ten years ago
In a bid to gain popularity for the new venture, big name players have been brought in on huge contracts. One can’t help nostalgia but feel the following XI. It’s like putting on an old jumper.
Robert Pires, Freddy Ljungberg, Nicolas Anelka, Luis Garcia, Alessandro Del Piero. What a side that would be!
2) The Indian Players Struggled…badly
Apart from the obvious gulf in class between the skill levels of the marquee players and the Indian ones, many of the Indian footballers struggled with the physicality and pace of the Europeans.
With the average age of the marquee signings being 37, it’s clear that India’s footballers have some catching up to do.
3) There will be goals, and lots of them
Ex-Real Madrid defensive mid Borja Fernandez undoubtedly took this week’s goal of week award with his sweet curling effort.
Did someone say take a bow son?
4) Indian Fans are still getting used to the concept
Many of the fans turned out to see the European Superstars from yesteryear and not the domestic clubs. Whether or not such fans will stay and support the new Indian clubs is anyone’s guess. The ISL is a new concept and getting fans to support the clubs through thick and thin will take a long time.
Some people came for the spectacle and left before the matches began. Not a good omen for the future.
5) Football still lags behind Cricket in India
The opening match of the ISL boasted Bollywood Dancers and European superstars but the event for many spectators was the sight of Cricketing Legend Sachin Tendulkar, who is now co-owner of the ISL team, Kerala Blasters. The biggest cheer of the night was reserved for Tendulkar, highlighting the biggest problem for Indian football. Cricket was and is a much bigger attraction.
Next week’s games promise to deliver even more goals, dancers and superstars. Whether or not the ISL will be the start of something beautiful is anyone’s guess but for the next ten weeks, the eyes of the world will be on Indian football. How often do we say that?
Conor Heffernan, Pundit Arena.