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ISL Teams 2019-20: A brief guide to the ten teams playing in ISL season 6

FEATURED COLUMNIST
Feature
Timeless

Rahul Bheke celebrates scoring the winner in last year's ISL final
Rahul Bheke celebrates scoring the winner in last year's ISL final

New status as the nation's top-flight league, new-found hope for some of its team, two new cities, one new set of owners, change has been the only constant in the off-season for the Indian Super League, before it kicked off on Sunday in Kochi.

Here's a brief guide to each of the ten teams that will be playing in the sixth edition of the ISL, in the 2019-20 season.


ATK FC

Captain - Pritam Kotal

Head Coach - Antonio Lopez Habas

The two-time champions have had two miserable seasons in their last two outings, and have once again splashed the cash in a bid to regain the supremacy that saw them win two of the first three seasons of the ISL.

They even brought back the manager that helped them win one of those - the 2014 edition - as Antonio Lopez Habas returns to a place with happy memories for him.

In signing Michael Soosairaj and Dheeraj Moirangthem, ATK looked to strengthen the Indian core of their side, but their signings of former A-League duo Roy Krishna and David Williams were what truly made heads turn. The duo scored 29 goals between them for Wellington Phoenix in the A-League last season, and if they can keep such goal numbers flowing, ATK should finally have a team capable of making the playoffs.


Bengaluru FC

Captain - Sunil Chhetri

Head Coach - Carles Cuadrat

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The defending champions have once again stressed on the continuity that has served them so well in the six years of their existence. Carles Cuadrat has stayed on as manager, and key stars like Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh, Juanan Gonzalez and Dimas Delgado have extended their stays in the country's Garden City.

The champions made a statement, too, with the acquisitions of Raphael Augusto and Ashique Kuruniyan, adding to their attacking arsenal in the absence of Miku, who left the club at the end of last season.

There's also an emotional 'homecoming' for Eugeneson Lyngdoh, who returns to a city and club where he is so loved. With their squad, it is really hard to envisage a scenario where Bengaluru don't make the playoffs yet again, and that is a testament to the club and their consistency.


Chennaiyin FC

Captain - Lucian Goian

Head Coach - John Gregory

The two-time ISL champions will be looking to bounce back after an awful 2018-19 season, which saw them finish rock-bottom with just nine points - the lowest points total ever mustered by a side in the ISL's short history.

All their foreigners from last season, bar Eli Sabia have left, and in have come a host of exciting names. Lucian Goian will captain the side, having moved from Mumbai City FC.

Lallianzuala Chhangte and Vishal Kaith, though, have got to be regarded as brilliant pieces of business from Chennaiyin. Both young Indians will look to force their way into Igor Stimac's reckoning with a strong season at the Marina Arena.


FC Goa

Captain - Mandar Rao Desai

Head Coach - Sergio Lobera

Well, what can you say about Goa that hasn't already been said? They play the best football in the ISL, they're always goal-hungry, and at Fatorda, there's one thing you can always guarantee - entertainment.

They retained the services of six of their foreigners from last season, with Zaid Krouch the only one to not get an extension. Goa, in fact, have only six foreigners in their squad, like the side who beat them in last year's final, Bengaluru.

Coro has been his goal-hungry self in pre-season again, and the ISL's all-time top-scorer will be raring to go for a tilt at his third straight Golden Boot award.

Youngster Aiban Dohling and winger Len Doungel were their notable acquisitions in the summer, with other youngsters from their development squad being promoted like Kingslee Fernandes and Lalawmpuia.


Hyderabad FC

Captain - Kamaljit Singh

Head Coach - Phil Brown

The new kids on the block, the newest city to the ISL party, Hyderabad FC will be looking for better fortunes than FC Pune City, who made the playoffs once in their five years of existence and were mediocre for the other four seasons.

The skeleton of this Hyderabad squad is made up of players who played for Pune last season, like captain Kamaljit Singh, whose strong performances in goal last season now mean that he is firmly established behind Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Amrinder Singh as the third-choice goalkeeper for the Blue Tigers.

It's going to be a big season for the likes of Adil Khan and Robin Singh, as well, as senior players in a squad filled with young Indians. For the likes of Marcelinho and Marco Stankovic, who are no strangers to the Indian game now, taking responsibility is a must.


Jamshedpur FC

Captain - Tiri

Head Coach - Antonio Iriondo

Third season in the ISL, third different head coach for Jamshedpur. Tiri and Memo have stayed on from last season, but there's a new head coach in town with Antonio Iriondo taking over from Cesar Ferrando.

In Isaac Vanmalsawma and CK Vineeth, Jamshedpur have acquired two players capable of solving their inability to consistently score goals.

But the most exciting aspect about Jamshedpur this season will definitely be the young Indians - with four players signings from the Indian Arrows, in addition to goalkeeper Niraj Kumar, who was a standout player for India at last year's AFC U-16 Championships.

Amarjit Singh Kiyam, Narendar Gehlot, Jitendra Singh and Aniket Jadhav will all get their first taste of ISL action this season, so it will be interesting to see how many of them find themselves at home at his level, and who knows, maybe get Igor Stimac's eyes firmly fixed on them?


Kerala Blasters FC

Captain - Bartholomew Ogbeche

Head Coach - Eelco Schattorie

Can the ISL's most volatile and excitable fanbase finally be given what they deserve by those on the pitch? Last season, at the Kanteerava Stadium for their away game against Bengaluru FC, the Blasters fans had unveiled a banner with the words, "We shall wait in hope, to see the football that we love."

There's hope, now, that Eelco Schattorie is the man to bring them the football that they love. The former NorthEast United FC head coach moved south for this season, after guiding the Highlanders to their first-ever playoff appearance last year.

With Bartholomew Ogbeche moving south with Schattorie, and other experienced players like Gianni Zuiverloon, Sergio Cidoncha and Mario Arques also joining, the Blasters have got a good mix of foreigners.

Sandesh Jhingan's absence due to an ACL injury is bound to be felt, though.


Mumbai City FC

Captains - Paulo Machado and Amrinder Singh

Head Coach - Jorge Costa

After a semi-final finish last season, the Islanders will look to go at least one better this season.

The additions of the likes of Mato Grgic and Rowllin Borges gives additional steel to a side that was already impregnable in midfield and defence last season, with the joint-most number of clean sheets in the league - eight alongside FC Goa and NorthEast United FC.

Jorge Costa's way of playing is unlikely to change. Mumbai will be a difficult side to break down and they've got the pace to hit teams on the break, with the likes of Modou Sougou in attack.

New signing Amine Chermiti is an exciting prospect, with the Tunisian's potential partnership with Sougou a big hope for Mumbai to get a lot of goals this season.


NorthEast United FC

Captain - Jose Leudo

Head Coach - Robert Jarni

NorthEast lost Schattorie and Ogbeche to Kerala Blasters, Grgic and Borges to Mumbai City FC, Federico Gallego still hasn't recovered from that horrendous injury he suffered in last year's semifinal. But they've added some star names like Ghanaian World Cupper Asamoah Gyan, who is also his country's all-time top-scorer.

Jarni hasn’t yet managed outside of Europe, and even though he was touted as a contender to be India's senior men's national team coach before Igor Stimac, he is still very much an unknown quantity.


Odisha FC

Captain - Marcos Tebar

Head Coach - Josep Gombau

One of the two new ISL teams this season, Odisha FC will be hoping that a change in name and home base will also provide a change in fortunes, after enduring two torrid seasons, that turned out to be the end of the Delhi Dynamos. The club will play their home games at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.

Josep Gombau will have to make do without Chhangte, and if his foreign striker Aridane Santana turns out like Andrija Kaludjerovic did last season, one can foresee another difficult season for Odisha. Xisco Hernandez, too, joined from Bengaluru FC, and he'll be expected to get up on the assists chart again, after leading the way for the champions last season.

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