As the curtains drew on the inaugural edition of the Hero Indian Super League on December 20 2014, Atletico de Kolkata stood as the first winners of this new and exciting chapter in Indian football with the whole footballing community already looking forward to the next season of this enthralling competition.
The second edition was announced to take place between September 15 and December 15, 2015 and the player auctions and drafts is on its way. There have been some tweaks to the rules, each team have to buy or retain one marquee player and the salary cap has been set at Rs. 20 crore for the second season. However that does not affect in any way the quality of football that we had witnessed in the first season.
With the football fever gripping the nation, everyone has their favorites and all fans will be rooting for their favorite team and players and the question on everyone’s lips is who is the strongest contender for the crown this time around.
We witnessed some really strong performances from the likes of Kerala Blasters who, if not for poor finishing and great goalkeeping, would have been standing on the top podium instead of Atletico de Kolkata.
The likes of Chennaiyin FC topped the group stages and came within a whisker of entering the finals while FC Goa lost out to the eventual winners in a nerve wrecking shootout in the semis. The likes of NorthEast United FC and Mumbai City FC had disappointing campaigns but did put out performances which made everyone take notice, especially with Mumbai City thrashing Pune FC 5-0.
Coming around, as a betting man you have to put your money on Atletico de Kolkata to repeat their triumph for a second consecutive season. From the tie up with Atlántico Madrid to having such excellent and experienced former internationals as Luis Garcia, they still are the team to beat.
They kept their nerve the best in a shootout in the semis and then took an almighty badgering in the final but were absolutely lethal and clinical with the one chance they got in the match. At that moment the words of a great man came to mind, “Football Bloody hell!”
They played some of the most beautiful, free flowing football in the whole league and had an excellent defensive record which was only bettered by two teams. Not to mention the fact that the fans of this team are renowned as the biggest football fanatics on the continent with them having the highest attendances.
As we all gear up towards another season of great footballing experience in the Indian chapter, we hope it lives up to its reputation and delivers beyond what it did in the first season.