Report: ISL 2018-19 final in Mumbai on March 17; ISL Semis from March 8-12
The Indian Super League (ISL) final will be staged at the Mumbai Football Arena (Andheri Sports Complex) in Mumbai on March 17, according to a news report.
The Times of India (TOI) cites a source connected to the venue to confirm that Mumbai will host the final, pipping other competitors like Goa and Guwahati.
The final is usually held at a neutral venue but the trend shows that it's held in one of the venues of the four teams who make the ISL playoffs. This season, Bengaluru FC, FC Goa, NorthEast United and Mumbai City FC have made the ISL semis.
While Bengaluru FC will face the fourth-placed team (either NorthEast or Mumbai) on March 8 and 11 in the two-legged home and away semifinal legs, Goa play the other semifinal on March 9 and 12. The league stages conclude on March 3 but the four semifinalists finish their league campaign by March 2 itself. Each side gets at least 5 days to prepare for the semifinal and final.
This is the second time that the city of Mumbai has been handed the rights to host the ISL final. The final of the inaugural edition in 2014, between Kerala Blasters and Atletico de Kolkata (now ATK) was held at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai.
There are concerns over the capacity of the Mumbai Football Arena, which can fit about 8,000-odd spectators only. While Bengaluru's Sree Kanteerava Stadium has about a 33,000 capacity, Goa's Fatorda can host about 20,000-odd people and the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati about 23,000.
The average attendance at the Mumbai Football Arena has been about 4,000 but the final could see a packed house. An advantage of the Mumbai Football Arena is its compactness, which could grant an electric atmosphere to the players.
Goa (2015), Kochi (2016) and Bengaluru (last season) are the other centres to have hosted the ISL final. The ISL club from the host city has never won the championship ever.
Can Mumbai City break that jinx this year?