Indian Football Round-up: 5 things you need to know to keep yourself up to date

Indian football look to steady sails in deep waters
Indian football look to steady sails in deep waters

Reframing of league structures, player transfers, administrative changes - Indian football has been going through some major ups and downs in the past few months, quietly so, in the right direction or may be otherwise.

The state of the game is at a crucial juncture in its history and the tug of war between the stakeholders with their respective interests in place, have grabbed a lot of eyeballs and opinions from all corners of the country.

While the off-the-field speculations are in full swing the good news is, the national team has been sweating it out on-the-field under their new head coach Igor Stimac at the national camp. India is about to play their second tournament in two months and Stimac will be looking to strengthen his style of play in the national colours.

We bring you a round-up of 5 things that you need to know to keep yourself informed with Indian Football.

Also see : Manchester united Transfer News, Arsenal Transfer News, EPL Transfer News.

ISL is India’s new top tier League, I-league winner to get AFC Cup Spot


Some major reframing as far as the league structure is concerned, the Indian Super League is about to be announced as the top-tier league while the I League will now be pulled down as the second-tier league in the country. In the executive meeting of the AIFF scheduled on July 9th, the AIFF and FSDL will put stamp on paper to officially make the announcement.

With that, the winner of the Indian Super League will get to represent in the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) Champions League preliminary qualifiers from the 2019-20 season onwards.

Previously, the winner of the I-league would get a slot in the qualifiers of the AFC Champions League and an automatic slot in the AFC Cup in case they lose the qualifying game. But now from the upcoming season, they will only be getting a berth at the AFC Cup, a slot which was previously availed to the winner of the Indian Super League (starting from the 17-18 season).

Notably, no Indian team has ever qualified for the group stages of the Asian Champions League. Till date, only Mohun Bagan(4) and Churchill Brothers(1) are the only Indian teams to have won the qualifying games.

The AFC Cup which can be deemed as the Europa League of Asia has however received encouraging performances from the Indian sides with Bengaluru FC reaching the finals of the 2016 season and East Bengal and Dempo reaching the last four in the 2013 and 2008 season respectively.

The change in the reform has been visualised as the shift in the favour of power from I-league to ISL and it has raised a lot of eyebrows. Several I-league clubs have turned against the AIFF for a possible justification on their future. It only remains to be seen if any of this help Indian football in the longer scheme of things

I-League clubs meet Praful Patel to raise concerns over their future

I-league clubs meet to raise concern over their future
I-league clubs meet to raise concern over their future

The tussle between the AIFF and the I-league clubs has been going on for a long time now. The conflict started back in 2016 with three Goan clubs Dempo, Salgaocar and Sporting Club de Goa pulling out of the league, raising concerns over their future. Following the AFC approving the ISL in 2017 and the Star cutting off I League coverage in 2018, further doubts were raised over AIFF’s step-motherly treatment towards the league clubs. With no response from the AIFF, as a mark of protest, seven I-league clubs pulled out of the Super Cup 2019. The AIFF further responded by first imposing a fine of ₹10 lakhs and later increasing it to ₹27 lakhs on each I-league clubs.

Making matters worse the unified I-league clubs threatened to move to court for appropriate relief if AIFF doesn't meet their demands or at least sit for a meeting. Finally on 3rd July, after delaying over several months, the AIFF President Praful Patel sat in a meeting with the club representatives to hear their concerns and provide a possible solution. It was decided that both the leagues will co-exist for another three years and by that time the AIFF will look to come up with a solution for a sustainable future for all the teams.

The I-league clubs have however raised no objection to be playing in the lower tier league provided they see a sustainable future in three years.

India to play continental cup

India play their second international tournament in 2 months
India play their second international tournament in 2 months

Defending champions India to kickstart their Intercontinental Cup campaign against 120th ranked Tajikistan on the 7th of July.

The 4-team tournament is scheduled from 7th to 19th July at the trans-stadia in Ahmedabad which will mark the first occasion of the national team playing at the venue.

The other two teams apart from India (101) and Tajikistan (120) are Syria (85) and North Korea (122). Coach Igor Stimac will be looking to capitalise the tournament to strengthen his team as much as possible. Although India has already taken the field under the Croatian at the King’s Cup last month, this will be a first time that coach Stimac will truly be tested given the long preparation time he and the team got at the National Camp.

The Indian side would like to carry a lot of confidence into the tournament after their performance at the recently concluded Kings Cup wherein they finished third by beating Thailand 1-0 in the last match of the tournament. Youngsters like Amarjit Singh, Brendon Fernandes, Sahal Ahmed could be given a start in the national colours. India would also like to see this tournament as a preparatory for the upcoming World Cup 2022 Qualifiers

India announces 25-member squad, Micheal Soosairaj sits out

India announces solid squad ahead of the Intercontinental Cup
India announces solid squad ahead of the Intercontinental Cup

India announced its 25-member squad for their campaign in the Intercontinental Cup. The list saw the inclusion of youngsters like Narendra Galhot, Amarjit Singh, Brandon Fernandes among others.

The team has been working hard at the national camp for over 10 days now and Stimac looks particularly happy with the preparations that the team has been making. "We are satisfied with the execution of work for the past ten days, The players worked really hard, and we are all very enthusiastic about our upcoming games,” Igor Stimac explained.

India is particularly going into the tournament to strengthen their squad ahead of the all-important World Cup 2022 Qualifiers which kicks off in September, the draw of which will be happening this month. “Once again, I will use the upcoming games in the tournament to have a look at all the players in action. Each one of them deserves the chance," the coach quoted.

The squad which was initially 35 people has seen an exclusion of 10 players from the camp, the prominent one is that of Micheal Soosairaj and Balwant Singh. Ashique Kuruniyan who was injured was released early and his undergoing his recovery in Bangalore.

Transfer Talk

New ATK signing Roy Krishna has been in prolific form in A-league last season
New ATK signing Roy Krishna has been in prolific form in A-league last season

While the national team prepares, the transfer season has well and surely begun in full swing among the ISL and the I-League Clubs. ATK has been the talking of the town with some heavy activity in the transfer market. Having already roped in Indian talents like Micheal Soosairaj, Joby Justin, Anas Edathodika, the Kolkata giants have further strengthened their squad with the signing of A-league record top scorer Roy Krishna and forward David Williams from Wellington Phoenix.

Kerala Blasters under new coach Eelco Schattorie have also been active on the market signing players like Bartholomew Ogbeche, Kai Heerings, Sergio Cidoncha, Mario Arques to name a few. Kerala has also been heavily linked with Iran-born Indian-origin midfielder Omid Singh who has also been talked about for accepting an invitation to play for the Indian National Team.

Other notable signings in the ISL has been:

  • Martin Perez Guedes and Xisco Hernandez to Delhi Dynamos
  • Subashish Roy Chowdhury to North East United FC
  • Diego Carlos to Mumbai City FC
  • Eugenson Lyngdoh to Bengaluru FC
  • Edwin Sydney Vanspaul to Chennaiyin FC

In the I-league East Bengal has roped in Spanish centre-back Martin Crespi from Delhi Dynamos whereas Real Kashmir has acquired the services of former Huddersfield Town winger Kallum Micheal.

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Edited by Kingshuk Kusari
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