After months of speculations, apprehensions, delays and hype surrounding the Indian Super League (ISL), today the first game is finally set to unfold in front of the world. The ‘in front of the world’ is no exaggeration as the event will be broadcast live all over India, Australia and European countries. Star Sports will telecast the games live in India and the subcontinent, while local branches of Star will broadcast the game in local languages – Star Gold (Hindi), Star Utsav (Hindi), Jalsha Movies (Bengali). Asianet Movies and Suvarna Plus will show the game in Malayalam and Kannada respectively. Star TV UK will show the game in England. Fox Sports will be responsible introducing the event in Australia, while Eurosport will show the game all over Europe. ATN will broadcast the game in Canada.
The opening game will be played in Kolkata’s Yuba Bharati Krinangan, one of the biggest stadiums in the world. Atletico de Kolkata, Kolkata’s team which takes the peculiar name from their partnership with Atletico de Madrid will lock horn against Mumbai City FC in this opening fixture of ISL.
Atletico de Kolkata is being coached by Antonio Lopez Habas, highly experienced coach who has coached Bolivia and Valenia for a short time. With Atletico Madrid’s help, ATK got training in Madrid’s modern facilities and played five friendlies in Spain. However, the scorching heat in Kolkata may provide a very different environment for ATK’s Spanish players, who have been reported to be struggling in the hot and humid conditions of this Eastern Indian city. However, ATK will be happy that the temperature has gone down a day before the game and there has been mild shower in the city.
All eyes will be set on ATK’s world cup winning marquee player, Luis Garcia. Luis Garcia, a natural left full back, may be given a new role as a playmaker for his new team. Along with the assistance from Jose Ramires Barretto, the Brazilian who has played in India for long and know the local scene, ATK has also been able to rope in a number of impressive Indian footballers. Some of the important players might be Subhasish Roy Chowdhury (Goalkeeper), Arnab Mondal (Central defender), Cavin Lobo (Central midfielder/attacking midfielder), Rakesh Masih (Defensive Midfielder), Sanju Pradhan (Winger) and Mohammed Rafi (Striker). Highly experienced spanish players, Josemi and Borja Fernandes can play important role in providing stability in the defensive department.
Mumbai City FC’s star player is no doubt Nicolas Anelka. Anelka, even a day before, was expected to miss this tie, however AIFF has given him clearance to play this game. It is likely that the opening game will see this talented striker showcase his skills. However, Fredrik Ljungberg will miss this game due to a injury. The Peter Reid coached side also has Diego Nadaya, who has scored two hat tricks in the friendlies. The mid field looks solid with Johan Letzelder and Jan Stohanzl. Lalrindika Ralte, the talented Indian is likely to play a important role as a attacking winger. Singham Subash Singh will also take on a attacking role for the Mumbai team. Rahim Nabi will look to make a come back with his new team. He is likely to take the role of left full back.
Antonio Habas has indicated that his team is not worry about the players of opposition and it doesn’t matter to him whether Anelka plays or not. His team is all set to play ‘fatafati’ football! Peter Reid, the former Sunderland manager, wants to start the tournament with all three points. On paper, the Mumbai team looks slightly better, however the home support and a better team chemistry due to longer training may see the Kolkata side take all three points.
It would be interesting to see whether the game truly is the start of a footballing revolution in this country or yet another hyped mismanaged event which is destined to sink without a trace. Indian football fans will be hoping that the beautiful game has now truly arrived in the country.
Prediction : ATK 2-2 MCFC
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