The sixth edition of the Indian Super League is set to commence on the 20th of October and the footballing extravaganza is set to conclude in March 2020 after five months of action packed drama. Club football returns to India, with the highly fancied Indian Super League rebooting itself for a new season. As 10 teams prepare to go head to head for the ISL crown, the forthcoming season promises to be the most exciting one yet after the events that have unfolded in the off season.
The ISL Fixtures for the 2019-20 season have been released on the official Indian Super League website. The fixtures for the entirety of the group stages has been disclosed on the website and Indian football's most popular domestic club competition is all set to kick off for the new season.
The opening encounter for the forthcoming season is set to be contested between Kerala Blasters FC and ATK, with the iconic Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi all set to play host to the spectacle. The curtain raiser is an enticing prospect between two popular sides in the ISL, with ATK winning the competition twice and KBFC reaching the final as many times since the league's inception in 2014. The league's old format of conducting a knockout stage for the top-four teams after the conclusion of the group stages has been retained, with the group stage fixtures set to conclude by February 2020.
After the curtain raiser on the 20th of October, the sixth edition of the ISL will run in tandem with the 13th edition of the I-League, creating an indifferent situation for the players involved. In recent seasons, domestic as well as foreign players have had to make a choice between the pair of top tier football leagues in India, deviating from the previous format of inter-tournament loans. Also, there will be a major change in the way matches have been played in the ISL previously.
In addition to that, every match-day will only involve a solitary fixture, with each game scheduled to kickoff from 19:30 hours IST.
Delhi Dynamos FC was dissolved after the conclusion of the 2018/19 edition of the tournament, owing to financial concerns and the franchise has been taken over by Vijay Madduri, a Hyderabad based entrepreneur, and Varun Tripuraneni, the former CEO of Kerala Blasters. Likewise, FC Pune City ceases to exist and the club was re-branded as Odisha FC on 31 August 2019, with the base being shifted from Delhi (JLN Stadium) to Bhubaneswar (Kalinga Stadium).
The new season will feature ten teams and most of the contesting sides have undergone wholesale changes with regard to backroom staff as well as the players. The ISL teams for the 2019/20 edition of the tournament are ATK (Kolkata), Bengaluru FC, Chennaiyin FC, Hyderabad FC, Goa FC, Jamshedpur FC, Kerala Blasters, Mumbai City FC, NorthEast United and Odisha FC.
Bengaluru FC will begin the season as defending champions, having won the ISL crown in the 2018/19 season courtesy of an extra time winner from Rahul Bheke against FC Goa. Led by Sunil Chhetri, BFC will look to successfully defend their title and look well equipped to do so, after retaining their core group and making astute additions in the transfer market. The likes of Chennaiyin FC, ATK and Kerala Blasters have also been active in the off season and the forthcoming edition of the ISL promises to be the most exciting season yet.
Ghanaian international Asamoah Gyan will ply his trade with NorthEast United for the forthcoming season. The veteran striker is household name in international football, known for his infamous penalty miss in the quarter-final stage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup against Uruguay. Bengaluru FC, the defending champions have bolstered their ranks with the additions of Ashique Kuruniyan, Raphael Augusto and Eugeneson Lyngdoh. ATK's capture of Irish defender Carl McHugh has also been seen as a massive statement of intent, as the two-time winners look to mount another title challenge.
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