ISL 2019: Everything to know about the 10 venues
The 6th edition of the Indian Super League got underway on 20th October and the new season promises to be even more exciting than last season. There has been a lot of player movement across teams and most sides have come out stronger after the off-season.
With a mixture of old and new players, all the ten clubs will look to hit the ground running quickly and forming a stronghold over the home fixtures will go a long way in ensuring that. Home matches are any team's strength as they would have the majority of the fans supporting them and this is why teams which tend to have a good record at their den eventually end up doing well.
The perfect example of this aspect would be Bengaluru FC, the reigning ISL Champions as they went on a superb unbeaten run at home en route to the playoffs. The team were behind in a lot of matches last season but the persistent support from their fans helped them to sneak in positive results.
On a similar vein, teams like Kerala Blasters, Chennaiyin FC and Jamshedpur FC amongst other sides tend to love to play at their home ground. So, while recognizing that, it would be only apt to learn a little about the ten stadiums that will host the clubs.
#Bengaluru FC - Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru -
Let us start with the reigning ISL champions Bengaluru FC's home ground, the Sree Kanteerava Stadium which is also famously termed as the 'Fortress' by the fans. That nickname hasn't come up without no reason as Bengaluru FC have built up a formidable record at the stadium over the last few years.
Since then, the highly successful side has had a fantastic win-loss record at the current home ground. In fact, Bengaluru came through the 2018-19 ISL season with a 100% record at the stadium.
The importance of the stadium and closeness to the fans can't be highlighted in a better way than Head coach Carles Cuadrat's words ahead of their first match of the season against Bengaluru.
“With all due respect for my new players, the most important signature we got this season was the one that lets us play at Kanteerava. The importance of this city to this club can never be explained, and we are very happy that we get to play this season at a place we are proud to call home,” Cuadrat said.
With the club caught in a legal battle with the Karnataka Athletics Federation, Bengaluru FC didn't know with certainty that they will be playing in their own city. In fact, they had enlisted the Balewadi Stadium in Pune as their temporary home ground for licensing purposes. Somehow, the stakeholders came to an amicable resolution and Bengaluru FC were allowed to use the Kanteerava Stadium again.
Fixtures to look forward at the Kanteerava Stadium -
Bengaluru FC vs Chennaiyin FC - 10th November 2019
Bengaluru FC vs Kerala Blasters - 23rd November 2019
Bengaluru FC vs FC Goa - 3rd January 2020
#Kerala Blasters- Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi
Probably the most intimidating stadium in the country, The Kaloor Stadium in Kochi is perhaps the perfect reflection of Kerala's love for football. Although the stadium was mostly used for hosting cricket games, football fans took to the ground easily and never fail to create a stunning atmosphere. Kerala Blasters FC haven't had the best record at their home ground but any opposition player would say that it is a challenge to play in front of the passionate football fans.
In fact, the Prince of Calcutta, Sourav Ganguly was astonished by the crowd support for the home side during the 2019-20 ISL season-opening match between ATK and Kerala Blasters.
This just gives an inkling towards how highly regarded the Kochi stadium is and a huge part of that appreciation should go to the fans.
Fixtures to look forward to at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi -
Kerala Blasters vs FC Goa - 1st December 2019
Kerala Blasters vs Hyderabad FC - 5th January 2020
Kerala Blasters vs Bengaluru FC - 15th February 2020
#Chennaiyin FC - Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai
The 'Marina Arena' is yet another stadium in the south that always has a fantastic atmosphere when the local club plays. Just like most other stadiums in the country, the Marina Arena is another multi-purpose facility that has been converted into a fantastic football stadium.
In the ISL, Chennaiyin's home ground has been specifically known for its tendency to be a high goal-scoring venue.
Fixtures to look forward to at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai -
Chennaiyin FC vs Hyderabad FC - 25th November 2019
Chennaiyin FC vs FC Goa - 26th December 2019
Chennaiyin FC vs Bengaluru FC - 7th February 2020
#ATK - Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata
Popularly known as the 'Mecca of Indian Football', the Salt Lake stadium can be easily termed as the best football stadium in the country. The Salt Lake stadium also holds the proud distinction of hosting many famous matches including the 2017 FIFA U17 World Cup final, Oliver Kahn's farewell match against Mohun Bagan and Argentina vs Venezuela.
Currently, the 85000-seater stadium hosts three teams in the city, ATK and the two giants of Calcutta Football, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal.
This stadium was also the venue for the inaugural match of the Indian Super League between Atletico de Kolkata and Mumbai City in 2014.
Fixtures to look forward to at the Salt Lake Stadium -
ATK vs Mumbai City FC - 30th November 2019
ATK vs Kerala Blasters FC - 12th January 2020
ATK vs Odisha FC - 8th February 2020
#Hyderabad FC - Gachibowli Stadium, Hyderabad
A city with a proud footballing heritage but one that was forgotten, Hyderabad FC's inclusion in the ISL might just revive the game's future locally. Until this year, it was Fateh Hyderabad who mainly used the stadium while playing in the I-League Second Division.
Going into this new season of the ISL, Hyderabad FC will be expecting some quality support from the stands while the fans will also want the team to reciprocate the backing with some good performances.
Fixtures to look forward to at the Gachibowli Stadium -
Hyderabad FC vs Kerala Blasters FC - 2nd November 2019
Hyderabad FC vs Bengaluru FC - 29th November 2019
Hyderabad FC vs Odisha FC - 15th January 2020
#FC Goa - Fatorda Stadium, Goa
Another footballing hotspot and a region that just adores football and its players. They have the compact Fatorda Stadium to voice their support for FC Goa. Even though it can only host 20000 people, the FC Goa fans ensure a lively atmosphere at all points. The fans have also been treated to some exquisite passing football from the Goan team.
This particular stadium has hosted some very interesting matches in the ISL including the controversial 2015 ISL final between FC Goa and Chennaiyin FC. Apart from the ISL, the Fatorda Stadium was also one of the venues for the FIFA U-17 World Cup and even hosted the quarter-final fixture between Spain and Peru.
Fixtures to look forward at the Fatorda Stadium -
FC Goa vs Chennaiyin FC - 23rd October 2019
FC Goa vs Bengaluru FC - 28th October 2019
FC Goa vs Mumbai City FC - 13th February 2020
#NorthEast United - Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati
Another state where football is the most-dominant sport, the local team NorthEast United FC have a fantastic home ground in the form of the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium (Also known as the Sarsujai Stadium).
Apart from hosting NorthEast United, the stadium is also used for national team matches. Most recently, India played their first FIFA World Cup qualifier against Oman in front of a packed house at Guwahati.
This stadium was one of the six venues that were chosen to host the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017.
Fixtures to look forward to at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium -
Northeast United FC vs ATK - 7th December 2019
Northeast United FC vs Jamshedpur FC - 2nd January 2020
Northeast United FC vs Kerala Blasters FC - 9th February 2020
#Mumbai City FC - Mumbai Football Arena, Mumbai
In terms of arenas for football in the country, no stadium comes close to the Mumbai Football Arena's proximity to the stands. It is a multi-use stadium but is mostly used for hosting football games and that was the main intention behind the stadium's renovation when Aditya Thackeray and Ranbir Kapoor wanted to have a proper football ground in Mumbai.
After being initially built in 1988, the majority of the work including the addition of an Olympic-size swimming pool was done in 2016. Since then, the ground has been a main venue for the Indian national team's training camps while also hosting friendlies and tournaments such as the Hero Intercontinental Cup.
When it comes to hosting big games in the ISL, the Mumbai Football Arena was the venue for the ISL 2018-19 final between Bengaluru FC and FC Goa, a game that saw a thrilling end with Rahul Bheke scoring the winner in the 117th minute to hand his side their first ISL trophy.
Fixtures to look forward to at the Mumbai Football Arena -
Mumbai City FC vs FC Goa - 7th November 2019
Mumbai City FC vs ATK - 4th January 2020
Mumbai City FC vs Northeast United FC - 31st January 2020
#Odisha FC - Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneshwar -
The second of the two new teams to debut in the Indian Super League, Odisha FC will be based out of the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar. While the complex is more known for hosting big hockey tournaments, the football stadium has also hosted tournaments such as the Hero Gold Cup and Hero Super Cup. These efforts are all part of the Odisha's governments strong initiative to make Odisha, 'The sporting hub of the country'.
When it comes to the ISL, the stadium has hosted a lone fixture when Jamshedpur FC played their home match against Bengaluru FC in 2017.
Fixtures to look forward at the Kalinga Stadium -
Odisha FC vs ATK - 24th November 2019
Odisha FC vs Hyderabad FC - 11th December 2019
Odisha FC vs Mumbai City FC - 11th January 2020
#Jamshedpur FC - J.R.D Tata Complex, Jamshedpur
The only stadium which is owned by the team itself, the J.R.D Tata Complex has superb infrastructure and plays host to the ISL team from the region, Jamshedpur FC. When Jamshedpur FC joined the ISL in 2016, both the team and also the stadium were an unknown capacity.
However, with some refurbishment, the stadium started to host matches with great atmosphere. Just like the Kanteerava Stadium, the J.R.D Tata Complex is also nicknamed in an interesting way and is referred to as 'The Furnace'.
Fixtures to look forward to at the J.R.D Tata Complex -
Jamshedpur FC vs Northeast United FC - 2nd December 2019
Jamshedpur FC vs ATK - 2nd February 2020
Jamshedpur FC vs FC Goa - 19th February 2020