The 2019-20 season of the Indian Super League was one to remember. It just had more of everything. More goals, more cleansheets, more assists, more everything. In fact, the viewership also reportedly went up with loads of fans thronging to stadiums or watching the games on their television sets at home. ISL fans got a glimpse of some of the best players, not only in Asia but the whole world.
While the previous season was a success on several levels, fans will be expecting more from the upcoming season in terms of entertainment. Despite the tournament being played behind closed doors in Goa, fans will definitely be following all the from their homes. The 2020-21 season is expected to churn out something special for everybody.
Goals! Goals! Goals!
Last season witnessed a sharp increase in goals with players across the ISL finding the back of the net on 294 occasions. In fact, it was the first time that three players were tied for most goals scored. Despite Bartholomew Ogbeche not being tied down to a contract in the ISL, Roy Krishna and Nerijus Valskis have been retained by ISL teams. This season, the goal count is expected to cross the 300 mark by a country mile.
In addition to this, the likes of Hyderabad FC and Bengaluru FC, who had problems in front of goal last season, have gone ahead and signed players who have a proven track record in front of the goal. Aridane Santana, Cleiton Silva, and even Gary Hooper are players who quite literally guarantee goals.
Reports have even confirmed that former Reading striker Adam Le Fondre is close to signing an ISL contract. If the deal goes through, he will add to the plethora of goals expected this season.
Youngsters stepping up
While experienced international talent has been continuously recruited by ISL teams, some of the youngsters that have come through the ranks in recent times have been quite phenomenal.
It all began with Sandesh Jhingan, who came into the Kerala Blasters side as a young 21-year-old. However, in the years that have gone by, Jhingan has also captained the Indian football team on several occasions and has become something of a veteran.
With the likes of Ishan Pandita, Phrangki Buam, and several other younger players coming through the ranks, it would seem as though the ISL could become a feeder system for the Indian national team for several years to come.
The Kolkata Derby
In the last few years of the ISL, there has been just one team from Kolkata. When one listens to the story of the founding of East Bengal FC and their subsequent rivalry over the decades with Mohun Bagan, the significance of the Kolkata Derby becomes very clear.
The coalescence of ATK and Mohun Bagan has now shifted the derby from the I-League to the ISL. Mohun Bagan has a deeper history, but East Bengal more glory in terms of trophies. With the ISL all set to host the derby, the upcoming season is will become even more interesting because of this fixture.
International talent in India
The recruitment of certain ISL teams has been called into question in the seasons gone by. However, this season has seen many clubs go all out in their recruitment practices, opting for the best talent available.
The likes of Vicente Gomez, Gary Hooper, and Fran Sandaza signing for ISL sides is evidence of clubs looking at bringing the best players to the league.
Even the recruitment of Indian players has been fantastic. With Rahul KP extending his contract with the Kerala Blasters and FC Goa rebuilding their attack with Phrangki Buam and Ishan Pandita, the recruitment policy of ISL teams has to be lauded.
Even when it comes to the coaching staff, there has been an improvement in recruitment with Robbie Fowler all set to take over the reins at East Bengal FC.
With the ISL promising so much on paper, the actual football is expected to be so much better. Fans cannot wait for the start of the season despite the tournament being played behind closed doors.Published 09 Oct 2020, 18:57 IST