Defending champion ATK Mohun Bagan (ATKMB) and Kerala Blasters FC (KBFC) will start the proceedings with what is expected to be a blockbuster clash at the GMC Stadium here. Antonio Habas-led ATKMB, playing in its first competition since the merger of the ISL and I-League champions, will start as the front-runner for the title in the seventh edition.
It has roped in some quality players like defender Sandesh Jhingan while retaining the core of last season, including Fijian international Roy Krishna, who was on fire. Roy was last season’s joint-top scorer with 15 goals from 21 matches.
FC Goa, which won the ‘League Winners’ Shield last season to become the first side from India to directly qualify for the group stage of the AFC Champions League, will be hit hard by the departure of Ferran Corominas and Hugo Boumous. But, new head coach Juan Ferrando has added some quality players to its ranks.
Bengaluru FC (BFC), under Carles Cuadrat, will be among the perennial favourites with an array of top players. Besides Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Sunil Chhetri, the Spanish head coach has managed to tie down Juanan, Erik Paartalu and Dimas Delgado.
Mumbai City FC (MCFC) is another side which will aim for at least a play-offs appearance after undergoing massive changes. With the City Football Group (CFG) buying a majority stake, the club has revamped the squad in a grand manner.
The biggest name to have joined is head coach Sergio Lobera. Spaniard Lobera has brought some quality players from FC Goa in Mourtada Fall, Mandar Rao Dessai, Boumous and Ahmed Jahouh.
Newcomer SC East Bengal (SCEB), under Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler, and Csaba Laszlo-managed Chennaiyin FC (CFC) could be among the dark horses. Kerala Blasters, Jamshedpur FC (JFC), Odisha FC (OFC), Hyderabad FC (HFC) and NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) would look to come up with better performances.
- 1 Owing to the raging COVID-19 pandemic, the entirety of ISL 2020-21 will be organised in one city – Goa
- 3 The seventh edition of ISL will be held across three venues – Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, GMC Stadium and Tilak Maidan
- 5 Clubs will be allowed to make up to five substitutions, instead of the usual three
- 6 In the first 11 rounds, there will be six doubleheaders on Sundays
- 11 With the addition of Kolkata giant SC East Bengal (SCEB), ISL will comprise 11 teams for the first time in its short history