As the second edition of the Indian Super League kicks off today, mid-day shines the spotlight on the eight franchises and their marquee players
The Delhi franchise have made some astounding signings this season with former Chelsea man Florent Malouda and ex-Liverpool player John Arne Riise in their ranks for the second season. Whether that transforms into success on the field for the team from the national capital remains to be seen.
Coach: Roberto Carlos
Marquee man: Roberto Carlos. While he may not play in all of Delhi’s matches this season due to his dual role as player and manager, all eyes will be peeled for the Brazilian defender’s famous banana freekick when he does take the field.
What's new:Besides Carlos, Riise and Malouda, the franchise from the capital have also managed to prise young striker Adil Nabi away from English Premier League side West Bromwich Albion. Brazilian midfielder Gustavo dos Santos and Dutch defender Hans Mulder are the only players left from last season’s team. They also picked up striker Robin Singh and defender Anas Edathodika in the auction.
Team: Roberto Carlos, Florent Malouda, John Arne Riise, Hans Mulder, Gustavo Dos Santos, Antonio Doblas, Anderson Sebastiao Cardoso, Richard Gadze, Adil Nabi, Anwar Ali, Robert Lalthlamuana, Francis Fernandes, Shylo Malswamtluanga, Souvik Chakraborthy, Subhashish Roy Chowdhury, Seminlen Doungel, Naoba Singh, Prabir Das, Zodingliana Ralte, Anas Edathodika, Gunashekar Vignesh, Ravi Kumar, Robin Singh, Sehnaj Singh.
FC Pune City
After a fifth-place finish last season, Pune went around signing players with proven quality at the world stage. They were also the most active team in the ISL auction, signing exciting Indian prospects like Bengaluru FC’s Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Royal Wahingdoh’s Jackichand Singh.
Marquee man: Adrian Mutu. The Romanian striker was supposed to partner David Trezeguet last season. This time around, having finally arrived on Indian shores, he would be keen on stamping his class on the league.
What's new:Pune’s foreign acquisitions include players like Turkish striker Tuncay Sanli, Costa Rica’s Yendrick Ruiz, Ivory Coast’s most capped player Didier Zokora and former England left-back Nicholas Shorey who have ample experience of playing in the top European leagues. They have also added domestic players like Lyngdoh and Jackichand and are one of the contenders for the title at least on paper.
Team: Adrian Mutu (marquee player), Nicholas Robert Shorey, Steven Simonsen, Yendrick Ruiz, Didier Zokora, Adrian Mutu, James Joseph Bailey, Tuncay Sanli, Roger Johnson, Diego Colotto, Kalu Uche, Wesley Verhoek, Arindam Bhattacharya, Dharmaraj Ravanan, Pritam Kotal, Israil Gurung, Lenny Rodrigues, Manish Maithani, Gouramangi Singh, Govin Singh, Sushanth Mathew, Bikash Jairu, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Fanai Lalrempuia, Gurjinder Kumar, Jackichand Singh, Lalit Thapa.
Atletico De Kolkata
Having won the inaugural edition of the ISL, the Kolkata franchise will be marked men this time around. Being defending champions comes with a lot of pressure, but India legend Baichung Bhutia believes the outfit have it in them to retain their title. “Atletico de Kolkata are definite frontrunners,” said Bhutia, who is a consultant for the Kolkata franchise.
Coach: Antonio Habas
Marquee man: Kolkata have replaced last season’s marquee player Luis Garcia with Portugal’s Helder Postiga. The striker, who has played in two World Cups and three European Championships with Portugal, was rubbing shoulders with the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the Spanish La Liga only last season.
What's new:Having released influential players like midfielder Jofre Mateu Gonzalez, goalkeeper Edel Bete and striker Fikru Teferra, the Atletico side will boast of many new faces in their line-up. The most exciting signing will be that of forward Iain Hume, one of the stars of the inaugural edition with five goals and the Golden Ball Award to his credit. The Kolkata side also splurged for domestic stars like Rino Anto and Izumi Arata in the auction.
Team: Borja Fernandez, Sameehg Doutie, Jaime Gavilan Martinez, Iain Hume, Jose Miguel Gonzalez Rey, Oftense Nato, Jose Luis Espinosa Arroyo, Valmiro Lopes Rocha, Juan Galatuyud, Javi Lara, Helder Postiga, Arnab Mondal, Denzil Franco, Nallapan Mohanraj, Baljit Sahni, Nadong Bhutia, Sheikh Jewel Raja, Sushil Kumar Singh, Rino Anto, Syed Rahim Nabi, Clifford Miranda, Amrinder Singh, Arata Izumi, Augustin Fernandes, Kunzang Bhutia, Lalchhawnkima.
Northeast United FC
Having finished last in the league table in Season 1, NorthEast United FC will have a point to prove this season. Due to their dismal performance, they retained just two of their foreign iports — Miguel Garcia and Kondwani Mtonga. To turn their fortunes around, they have put faith in manager Cesar Farias, who famously guided Venezuela to the semi-finals of the Copa America in 2011.
Coach: Cesar Farias
Marquee man: Simao Sabrosa. The Portuguese winger was part of the side that reached the Euro 2004 final. He also played for some of the biggest European clubs like Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Benfica, racking up 102 goals in 486 club appearances.
What's new: The north-east Indian franchise have made some interesting signings like former Newcastle United and Fulham striker Diomansy Kamara, Ghana’s Francis Dadzie and River Plate youth product Nicolas Velez. They have also roped in players from ISL rivals like Cedric Hengbart (Kerala Blasters), Gennaro Bracigliano (Chennaiyin FC) and Bruno Arias (Delhi Dynamos).
Team: Gennaro Bracigliano, Lalthuammawia Ralte, Rehenesh T.P, Cedric Hengbart, Miguel Garcia, Marlangki Suting, Aiborlang Khongjee, Yumnam Raju, Zohmingliana Ralte, Reagan Singh, Robin Gurung, Simao Sabrosa (marquee player), Silas, Kondwani Mtonga, Bruno Herrero Arias, Sanju Pradhan, Boithang Haokip, Seityasen Singh, Siam Hangal, Alan Deory, Diomansy Kamara, Boubacar Sanogo, Nicolas Velez, Holicharan Narzary, Francis Dadzie.
After last season’s exit against Kerala Blasters in the semi-finals, the Chennai franchise will be keen to make amends. The have kept faith in Italian Marco Materazzi, who has sought to buy players who suit his coaching philosophy this season.
Coach: Marco Materazzi
Marquee man:Elano Blumer. The playmaker made arguably the biggest impact from amongst the international stars last season after scoring eight goals in his first six games. He sustained a calf injury mid-way during the season but still scored eight goals and eventually won the Golden Boot.
What's new: Chennai have built a strong squad this season. Key to this has been the acquisition of players like striker Fikru Teferra, Edel Bete (both of whom played for ISL winners Atletico de Kolkata last season) and midfielder Thoi Singh, who was purchased at the ISL auction. The franchise also retained key players like Elano Blumer, Bruno Pelissari, Bernard Mendy and Steven Mendoza.
Team: Elano Blumer, Bruno Pelissari, Edel Bete, Fikru Teferrra, Bernard Mendy, Eder Monterio Fernandes, John Steven Mendoza, Manuele Blasi, Alessandro Potenza, Raphael Augusto, Mailson Alves, Abhishek Das, Dhanachandra Singh, Harmanjot Khabra, Balwant Singh, Jayesh Rane, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Godwin Franco, Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Dhanpal Ganesh, Justin Stephen, Karanjit Singh, Lalhmangaihsanga Ralte, Nidhin Lal, Thoi Singh, Zakeer Mundampara.
Mumbai City FC
They had one of the strongest teams on paper last season but ended a dismal seventh in the league as star players like Freddie Ljungberg and Nicolas Anelka could not fire. This time around, Mumbai have gone about building a strong line-up with some nifty signings.
Coach: Nicolas Anelka
Marquee man: Nicolas Anelka. The French striker will still be smarting about not being able to inspire Mumbai to a more respectable finish in Season 1. His partnership with India striker Sunil Chhetri up front will be one of the most interesting sub-plots of Mumbai’s season.
What's new: Having scored just 12 goals from 14 matches despite the presence of players like Freddie Ljungberg and Nicolas Anelka in their ranks last season, Mumbai have sought to remedy their goal-scoring woes by capturing attacking players like India skipper Sunil Chhetri and Mohun Bagan star Sony Norde besides retaining Anelka and playmaker Andre Moritz.
Team: Nicolas Anelka (marquee-player-cum-manager), Frantz Bertin, Darren O’Dea, Pavel Cmovs, Cristian Bustos, Juan Aguilera, Sony Norde, Selim Benachour, Andre Moritz, Frederic Piquionne, Subrata Paul, Rowilson Rodrigues, Kingshuk Debnath, Gabriel Fernandes, Thangjam Saran Singh, Subhash Singh, Ashutosh Mehta, Albino Gomes, Brandon Fernandes, Debjit Majumder, Keegan Pereira, Lalchhuanmawia Fanai, Pratesh Shirodkar, Sunil Chhetri.
The Goa franchise lost in the tie-breaker to Atletico de Kolkata in the semi-final last season — a heartbreak that will still rankle for the fans of the football-mad state. This season, coach Zico has brought a distinctly Brazilian flavour to the team with no less than seven players from the South American giants featuring in the squad. Whether this helps the Goa outfit play the beautiful brand of football Zico craves and still win the ISL trophy remains to be seen.
Marquee man: Lucio. The former Brazil captain and 2002 World Cup winner will lend Goa much-needed solidity at the back where he is expected to pair up with French defender Gregory Arnolin.
What's new: Zico was not able to retain players like Bruno Pinheiro, Zohib Islam Amiri, Golden Glove winner Jan Seda and Andre Santos. Instead he has picked up compatriots like Elinton Andrade, Leo Moura, Jonatan Lucca, Victor Simoes and Reinaldo who are familiar with Zico’s footballing philosophy and will help the franchise hit the ground running — a problem that dogged them last season.
Team: Andrade, Laxmikant Kattimani, Luis Barreto, Keenan Almeida, Nicolau Colaco, Lucio, Gregory Arnolin, Raju Gaikwad, Narayan Das, Debabrata Roy, Bikramjit Singh, Jonatan Lucca, Pronay Halder, Leo Moura, Jofre, Mandar Rao Desai, Leo Rocha, Denson Devadas, Romeo Fernandes, Victor Simoes, Reinaldo, Darryl Duffy, Chinadorai Sabeeth, Joaquim Abranches, Thongkhosiem Haokip, Victorino Fernandes.
Kerela Blasters FC
The Sachin Tendulkar co-owned team surprised almost everyone last season by reaching the final, where they lost to Atletico Kolkata. This season, while other teams flew abroad for pre-season training camps, Blasters close to stay in Kochi, reasoning that it would be the most ideal preparation for the ISL.
Coach: Peter Taylor
Marquee man: Carlos Marchena. Kerala’s marquee man has won the 2010 World Cup, and the 2008 European Championship. The central defender, who can also play as a defensive midfielder if the team needs him to, also helped Spain to the under-19 World Cup in 1999.
What's new: The Kochi franchise has snapped up many young products of European academies like Jose Prieto (23 years old), a graduate of Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy, which has thrown up players like Lionel Messi and Xavi, former Arsenal youth player Sanchez Watt (24) and former Queens Park Rangers player Antonio German (23).
Team: Carlos Marchena (marquee player), Victor Forcada, Josue Prieto Currais, Sanchez Watt, Peter Iain Ramage, Christopher Dagnall, Stephen Michael Bywater, Bruno Caldini Perone, Joao Coimbra, Antonio Timothy German, Marcus Williams, Sandip Nandy, Gurwinder Singh, Nirmal Chettri, Ramandeep Singh, Sandesh Jhingan, Saumik Dey, Ishfaq Ahmed, Mehtab Hossain, Mohammed Rafi, Cavin Lobo, Peter Carvalho, CK Vineeth, Shankar Sampingiraj.