I-League 2017/18: Sony Norde to switch clubs if Mohun Bagan don't play ISL next season
The 2017/18 I-League season may be the last time we see Sony Norde in Mohun Bagan colours, as the Haitian winger would prefer to play in the ISL next season.
The disparity between the Indian Super League (ISL) and the I-League has been a hot topic in Indian football that was punctuated in between by the carnival atmosphere of the FIFA U17 World Cup.
With the World Cup out of the way, a number of top football players from India and abroad have opted to play in the ISL, as the cash-rich tournament is to run simultaneously with the official top tier of Indian football – the I-League.
However, with talks of a merger on the horizon, the Mohun Bagan star stated his desire to play in the ISL, which he believes, is more organised.
“They say that next season these teams (Mohun Bagan and East Bengal) will also be in the ISL, so that would be good. Otherwise, I may have to change (teams) next season,” Norde said so Sportskeeda. “I had so many offers from the ISL teams this season, but I signed for Mohun Bagan. I am happy to be here for now.”
Sony, who has won an I-League and a Federation Cup with the Green and Maroons, further went on to stress the importance of including clubs like East Bengal and Mohun Bagan in the ISL.
“They say that they will have only one (top) league in the country from next season. But if they have one league, then they have to bring Mohun Bagan and East Bengal in at any cost,” he said. “They are the most popular teams in the country. For me, it will be better if Mohun Bagan play ISL next season.”
For Norde, one big issue in the I-League is that of constantly switching between natural and artificial grass, which makes things difficult in the I-League. He said, “You have more quality players in ISL. All the top players are going to the ISL. There, it’s more tactical, more relaxed. There’s more accommodation, more organisation, and they play all the ISL games on natural grass. But they play on certain artificial grass in the I-League.
“Artificial grounds are too hard. But when you play on natural grass, you can see the difference. As a football player, you would have to adapt to everything. But you get more injuries on artificial grass. Natural grass, on the other hand, is soft, and good to play on,” he further said.
The worry of playing on natural artificial grass has somewhat been negated by the fact that Mohun Bagan are set to play at the Salt Lake Stadium. However, with fixture-congestion being an issue, as the Green and Maroons are having to share the iconic venue with bitter rivals East Bengal, and ISL defending champions ATK.
Due to fixture congestion, some of East Bengal and Mohun Bagan’s fixtures may even be shifted to other stadiums, or worse, be called off altogether. Sony criticised the authorities for their lack of “organisation”.
“It will be very bad to shift our games to other stadiums. That’s what I’m saying. There’s no organisation (in the I-League),” he said.
“You have three clubs in Calcutta. So if they have to play some matches at other stadiums, they should have thought of that before,” said Norde. “Not when the league is about to start. Whatever happens, though, our aim is still to win the league. But let’s hope we get the Salt Lake Stadium.”
The exclusion of century-old pillars of Indian from the cash-rich ISL also means that the tournament is losing out on a massive fan base. It would be interesting to see what the next step of Indian football would be, and how it could affect those in and around it.