“As a team, we feel really confident. All we’re looking for is to win the league.”
After what will surely be a mesmerising opening ceremony, the 2016 Indian Super League is set to begin.
Sports and Bollywood stars alike will entertain 30’000 excited fans at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Sarusajai, Guwahati.
Following immediately after the glitz and glamour of the opening ceremony, the real Hero Indian Super League action will begin.
The third edition of the tournament will be more exciting than ever, with all new international stars set to feature.
DESIblitz brings you a complete guide to the 2016 Hero Indian Super League and exclusively hears from two Delhi Dynamos.
Key Dates of the 2016 Indian Super League
It will be an electrifying start to the 2016 Hero Indian Super League, as October is full of action.
The Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Sarusajai, Guwahati, will host a grand opening ceremony on Saturday, October 1.
And soon after that, the new season kicks-off in the same stadium as NorthEast United take on Kerala Blasters.
Fans are in for a real treat the next day, as the 2014 ISL champions host the 2015 winners. Atletico de Kolkata face Chennaiyin in a titanic clash on October 2, 2016.
On October 3, the Maharashtra derby will be played between FC Pune City and Mumbai City FC. The southern derby between Chennaiyin FC and Kerala Blasters will be contested on October 29, 2016.
But before that, Chennaiyin face FC Goa on October 13, in a replay of the 2015 Indian Super League final.
FC Goa begin their season in Assam to face NorthEast United on October 4, 2016. The Delhi Dynamos, meanwhile, kick-off their season in Chennai on October 6.
Wow, all that for you to look forward to in October 2016. But the action does not stop there, as each team plays a total of 14 league matches, to decide a ‘Top 4’ who proceed to the Finals.
Kerala Blasters host NorthEast United in the last regular season match of the Indian Super League on December 4, 2016.
The semi-finals begin on December 10/11, and the second legs will be played on December 13/14, 2016.
Make sure you are available on Sunday, December 18, to watch the two respective semi-final winner’s face-off to decide the ultimate 2016 ISL champion.
2016 Indian Super League Teams
The 2016 Hero Indian Super League again features eight franchises, and where better to begin than with the 2015 winners.
Chennaiyin are this year led by Italian UEFA Champions League, and FIFA World Cup winner, Marco Materazzi.
The defending champions, however, have lost their top scorer from last season. John Stiven Mendoza is now playing for New York City in American MLS.
They do, though, have former Liverpool and Delhi Dynamo defender, John Arne Riise, as their marquee player for 2016.
Two Brazilians will be key to 2015 ISL runners-up, FC Goa, this season. Zico manages the side for the third successive season, while defender, Lucio, is their marquee player.
Goa scored the most goals in 2015, but they will be pushed hard to achieve that again. Especially due to the attacking prowess of Mumbai City and Atletico de Kolkata.
Iain Hume was the 2014 ISL ‘Hero’, and was the second top scorer last season. This season, though, Hume will be supported and partnered by the Portuguese striker, Helder Postiga, for Atletico de Kolkata.
Mumbai City, meanwhile, have dangerously combined their marquee player, Diego Forlan, with India’s all-time top marksman, Sunil Chhetri. Mumbai co-owner, Ranbir Kapoor, says:
“It’s really exciting to have a player of Diego’s quality play for us. He’s one of the best in the business and I can’t wait to see him on the field fighting it out for Mumbai.”
Eidur Gudjohnsen is FC Pune City’s marquee player this season and joins another former Premier League player in Andre Bikey.
It is Kerala Blasters, though, with the true British connection. Steve Coppell manages a side which features Brit-Asian forward, Michael Chopra, and versatile Northern Irishman, Aaron Hughes.
John Abraham’s NorthEast United have chosen Didier Zokora as their marquee player for the season.
An Italian FIFA World Cup winner replaces a Brazilian World Cup winner at the Delhi Dynamos this year.
Gianluca Zambrotta succeeds Roberto Carlos as Dynamos manager for the 2016 Hero Indian Super League season. He manages a side who are hoping to improve on their 2015 run to the semi-finals.
Former Chelsea FC star, Florent Malouda, remains with the Dynamos for the 2016 Indian Super League season.
This year, though, Malouda is joined by Spanish defender, Ruben Gonzalez Rocha, and Samir Nabi, from West Bromwich Albion.
Kean Francis Lewis and Rupert Nongrum are appearing in the ISL for the first time with Delhi Dynamos.
The two players spoke to DESIblitz after Delhi’s historic match with West Bromwich Albion of the English Premier League.
Nongrum believes Zambrotta’s coaching methods are working with the players. He says: “He’s a great coach and taught us a lot. Against West Brom we played really well and we did what he wanted us to do.”
Delhi’s close match with West Bromwich Albion suggests that the Dynamos could well be in for a successful 2016 season.
Kean Lewis believes that it could be a perfect season for Delhi. He says: “As a team, we feel really confident. With the Italian coaching staff that we have, defensively, were very compact and organised. All we’re looking for is to win the league.”
So each of the eight Indian Super League teams have improved, but there can only be one champion. Who will it be, and who will you be cheering for?
The 2016 Indian Super League season will be the last as we know it. Huge changes to Indian football are due to come into place for 2017/18 season.
So this final 8 team Indian Super League is sure to be a cracker. Don’t miss any of the action which begins on October 1, 2016.
Click here to find out more about the revolutionary changes to Indian football that are due to come into place for the 2017/18 season.