Striking goal with Indian Super League

Written by Anirudh Vohra | Updated: Oct 5 2014, 07:34am hrs
The success of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has set off a domino effect, as several sports leagues have been seen sprouting up in the country. From the pioneering cricket to kabaddi, hockey and badminton, the country has been there, done that. The latest to jump on the bandwagon is football, with the inaugural season of the Indian Super League (ISL) starting next weekend, October 12 to be precise.

Just like the IPL, the ISL will see also some of the biggest names from the sport battle it out in a format based on the cricket league and the Major League Soccer of the US. The format will also bring in celebrities as team owners. India cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar, along with PVP Ventures, had won the bidding for the Kochi franchise. Another former Indian cricketer, Sourav Ganguly, along with a group of Indian businessmen and La Liga side Atltico Madrid, had won the bidding for the Kolkata franchise. The most expensive city to be won was the Kolkata team, which was won for approximately R18 crore. The base price of each team was set at R12 crore each.

Meanwhile, Bollywood stars John Abraham, Ranbir Kapoor, and Salman Khan won the bidding for the Guwahati, Mumbai, and Pune franchises respectively. The eight teams going head to head this season are Atletico Kolkata, Chennaiyin FC, Delhi Dynamos FC, FC Goa, FC Pune City, Kerala Blasters FC, Mumbai City FC and Northeast United FC.

While the domestic players' draft took place for July 22 and 23, the international draft took place on August 21 in Mumbai. There were 84 players up for grabs during the domestic draft that could be picked between six of the eight ISL teams (Goa and Northeast United selected from their I-League teams). Close to 50% of the 84 players had been a part of the India national football team. On the other hand, there were 49 players available for selection in the international draft.

The leagues regular season will run during October and November with the 'finals' series to be played in November and December. During the regular season, each team will play each other twice on a home and away basis. The top four teams at the end of the season will qualify for the finals series. The semi-finals will be played in a two-legged format with the winners moving on to the one-legged final.

Every team has 14 domestic players and seven international players along with a big name in football as a marquee player. The marquee players this season are Freddie Ljungberg (Mumbai City FC), Robert Pires (FC Goa), Alessandro Del Piero (Delhi Dynamos FC), Joan Capdevila (Northeast United FC), David Trezeguet (FC Pune City), David James (Kerala Blasters FC), Luis Garcia (Atletico de Kolkata) and Elano Blumer (Chennaiyin FC).