In six years, only three teams have managed to win the Indian Super League (ISL) title. Before reincarnating themselves as ATK Mohun Bagan, the club was the most successful in terms of winning ISL titles, and have three to their name. Chennaiyin FC managed two, while Bengaluru FC have one.
The ISL League Winners' Shield is something that is awarded to the club that finishes on top of the ISL table. Having been introduced only in the 2019-20 season, FC Goa are the only club to have claimed the shield so far. Chennaiyin FC, Bengaluru FC, and Mumbai City FC are among the other teams that have managed to finish on top of the league in previous seasons.
Only a small group of managers have thus succeeded in lifting the title in the six-year history of the ISL. Let's take a look at three managers who have managed to win the ISL in their first season in charge.
#1 Antonio Lopez Habas - Atletico de Kolkata (2014 ISL Season)
Antonio Lopez Habas is the most successful head coach in the ISL. In three seasons with ATK, Habas has managed to guide the club to two ISL titles, with the first one coming in the inaugural 2014 season. ATK began the 2014 season on a bright note, with resounding wins over Mumbai City FC and NorthEast United FC.
However, their season began to derail soon after, following a 3-1 home defeat to FC Pune City. ATK barely made it to the playoffs, with 4 wins in the league from 14 games. ATK then beat FC Goa on penalties to secure a berth in the 2014 ISL final against Kerala Blasters FC.
Mohammad Rafique scored the winner for ATK in the 95th minute of stoppage time, thus handing Antonio Lopez Habas and ATK their first-ever ISL title.
#2 Carles Cuadrat - Bengaluru FC (2018-19 ISL Season)
Since the formation of the Indian Super League in 2014, Bengaluru FC were always the favorites to transition from the I-League to the ISL. The Blues eventually found themselves in the league with head coach Albert Roca at the helm and Carles Cuadrat as his assistant.
The first season witnessed the Blues go on a tear as they claimed the top spot on the 2017-18 ISL table. With 13 wins and 40 points, it seemed that they had achieved the pole position with considerable ease. However, a 2-3 loss to arch-rivals Chennaiyin FC saw the ISL championship elude the Blues.
The following season saw Carles Cuadrat step into the role vacated by Albert Roca. As expected, Cuadrat led the club to pole position once again, but there was more to come. Following an impressive display in the semifinals against NorthEast United FC, Cuadrat matched his predecessor's credentials by leading the side to their second ISL final in two seasons.
The final saw the Blues take on FC Goa in a highly dramatic match. The ill-tempered encounter witnessed nine yellow cards being handed out. Ahmed Jahouh was sent off, courtesy of a second yellow card in the 105th minute. However, as fate would have it, Rahul Bheke scored in the 117th minute from a set-piece to hand Bengaluru FC the win and their first-ever ISL title.
#3 John Gregory - Chennaiyin FC (2017-18 ISL Season)
In his first-ever managerial stint in India, John Gregory managed to lead Chennaiyin FC to the ISL title in the 2017-18 season.
Chennaiyin FC finished in the second place on the ISL table, eight points behind league leaders Bengaluru FC. The playoffs saw them taking on FC Goa, with Gregory's side managing to overcome the Gaurs rather easily. The final against arch-rivals Bengaluru FC would be one for the ages.
Sunil Chhetri opened the scoring in the seventh minute for Bengaluru. However, Mailson Alves equalized in the 17th minute and right before half-time to give Chennaiyin the lead.
Raphael Augusto made it 3-1 and it looked like the match was beyond Bengaluru's reach. Miku scored in the 90th minute as Bengaluru threw the kitchen sink at Chennaiyin. But Gregory's side managed to hold on for a slender 3-2 win at the Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru.Published 26 Dec 2020, 17:00 IST