ISL 2017: Bengaluru FC star underlines club's big rivalry in first ISL season, ready to give them 'a bit of stick'
What's the story?
Bengaluru FC star defender John Johnson is gearing up well ahead of the 2017-18 Indian Super League (ISL) season, and the former Middlesbrough man is also keeping a close eye on the club's new rivals in the popular Indian franchise league.
Speaking to his club's official website, Johnson opened up on his excitement to play in the ISL for the first time and is already looking forward to Bengaluru's new rivalry with Kerala Blasters.
“New teams, new rivalries! I’m sure there will some interesting games along the way, so I’m looking forward to it. The closest team normally end up as your rivals. Kerala’s right down the road and the game is on new-year's eve, so it’ll be an exciting one, and you know, it will be nice to play against Vineeth, Sandesh and Rino, and give them a bit of stick as old friends.”
In case you didn't know...
Johnson has been with Bengaluru since the club's establishment in 2013 and with the JSW-backed outfit entering the ISL for the first time this year, ISL-4 will be the first experience of the elite Indian football league for the English defender.
The heart of the matter
Despite the ISL being a relatively young league, we have seen numerous edgy battles between different clubs over the course of the league's three-year history. The famous Chennaiyin vs FC Goa duel in ISL 2015 comes to mind where both Zico and Marco Materazzi didn't hold back as both teams contested the title clash. Another on-pitch rivalry has been seen between ATK and Kerala Blasters, both of whom have played two finals each.
With Bengaluru FC now joining the ISL, the founding members of the league will have a new challenge to deal with in the forthcoming season. The Blues have been more successful than any other Indian club during their four-year history and also had their footprints on the continental stage.
Earlier this year, a section of Bengaluru FC fans was involved in an altercation with current Kerala Blasters stars CK Vineeth and Rino Anto - both of whom played for Bengaluru in the past - and that has already ignited the animosity and tension that is set to develop between the two clubs when the season gets underway.
Johnson and Bengaluru FC start their ISL campaign on 19th November at home against Mumbai City FC and their regular season fixtures against Kerala Blasters are scheduled on 31st December 2017 and 1st March 2018. Friction is already building between the Blues and their rivals in yellow; it remains to be seen what transpires on the pitch when the two big guns clash during the season.