The first eleven rounds of the ISL have been announced today by the league organizers, with debutants ATK Mohun Bagan squaring off against the much-fancied Kerala Blasters to get the 2020/21 edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) underway.
The opening round will also witness the much-anticipated clashes between FC Goa and Bengaluru FC at the Fatorda, while Odisha FC and Hyderabad FC square off at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim. Interestingly, both these sides have swapped strikers for the upcoming season, with Marcelinho moving from Hyderabad to Odisha and Aridane Santana moving from Odisha to Hyderabad.
This edition of the ISL sees the entry of two historical heavyweights of Indian football, as ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal join the league. Consequently, the league will have 20 more games than last year, for a total of 115.
The two sides will face off in the much-awaited Kolkata derby on November 27 at the Tilak Maidan Stadium.
The league phase of the tournament will run November to February. The schedule for the semi-final and final phase is yet to be announced.
Safety protocols in place for the new ISL season at Goa
The 2020-21 season of the ISL will be played entirely in Goa due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. The ISL is set to become one of the first few sporting activities to begin in India following the lockdown. Current safety protocols dictate that each team will be residing only an hour and a half from their respective venues, something that is expected to minimize the travel fatigue of the players.
Each ISL team also has their own practice facilities. The protocols also dictate that nobody apart from the players and a few select staff will reside in the hotel, with all members of the contingent undergoing multiple Covid-19 tests before and after each fixture.