Turns out we may inadvertently have a new feature on our hands. Last week when the latest from the newsdesk was released, I thought we may have to do it once a month, maybe once every two weeks as a maximum, but oh no, here we are again a week later.
It’s good though because it means the teams in the league are keeping busy which is always good in the off-season. Bear in mind, it’s not technically speaking the off-season yet, so who knows what fun will be in store over the summer once the Super Cup is out the way as well.
Speaking of the Super Cup, that’s where we’ll begin. The draw for the qualifiers was done last Thursday and it will be interesting to see how the teams match up because our knowledge of the I-League is pretty restricted here. Anyway, the qualifiers are being played later on this week on Thursday and Friday, so why they decided to do the draw for the round of sixteen already, I have absolutely no idea.
Why Couldn’t They Wait An Extra Week?
Why wouldn’t you just wait an extra week so everyone knew what they were doing? Then again, this is the AIFF we’re talking about and common sense doesn’t normally prevail. Without delay, let’s take a look at what the draw has conjured up for us… *Please note, all dates are subject to change due to the AIFF doing pretty much what they like*
Chennaiyin FC vs Aizawl FC (31/3) | Bengaluru FC vs Gokulam/NorthEast United (1/4) | Mohun Bagan vs Delhi Dynamos/Churchill Brothers (1/4) | Minerva Punjab vs Jamshedpur FC (2/4) | FC Goa vs ATK/Chennai City (3/4) | Pune City vs Shillong Lajong (4/4) | East Bengal vs Mumbai City/Indian Arrows (5/4) | Neroca FC vs Kerala Blasters (6/4)
There are some ties there that get the blood pumping and there are some others there that have the potential to put you to sleep. Saying that it’s a brand new tournament so let’s hope for the best. One game that jumps out at me is Minerva vs Jamshedpur because that’ll be a true comparison of where the respective leagues are in relation to one another.
My thought process behind this is that Minerva won the league and Jamshedpur finished slap-bang in the middle of the ISL. Admittedly, Minerva winning the league was a surprise, but it’ll be a good guideline moving forward. Should Delhi overcome Churchill Brothers, their tie against Mohun Bagan will be an interesting watch as well, as hopefully, they all will be. I’m hoping for high octane goal-fests, I just hope we’re not left with a bunch of 0-0s.
Delhi Entering the I-League
We’ll cover each of the games with the usual match preview and match review, so I won’t go into any more detail on each of the games for now as that’ll be done closer the time. Delhi are a team we’ve just touched on regarding the Super Cup, so it makes sense to stick with them for now.
In a strange turn of events, they’re entering a team into the I-League second tier which begins later this week. What quite happens if they get promoted, I have no idea. Surely they can’t run a side in the I-League and the ISL at the same time? They haven’t got any of their big names in the I-League squad so it’ll be intriguing to see how they get on and what actually will happen should they win the league. We could end up with Delhi on Delhi action in the Super Cup a few years down the line. Crazy.
Next up, let’s look at two players who have committed their futures to their respective clubs despite neither of them achieving what they set out to achieve at the beginning of the season. First, we’ll start with the cat in Mumbai’s goal, Amrinder Singh. He has been one of the high points of Mumbai’s season and with him between the sticks, they’ll always have a safe pair of hands to rely on.
James Has Been Quick To Act
Lalruatthara is the other name that has put pen to paper on a new deal. Both him and Amrinder have signed three-year deals which ties them up until 2021. Unlike Amrinder, Lalruatthara plays for Kerala and has been a shining light throughout the season. David James has been quick to act in the transfer market and has made a move to sign Naveen Kumar from FC Goa and Abdul Hakku from NorthEast. I can understand the move for FC Goa’s keeper as he’s a damn sight better than Rachubka, the move for Hakku is a little bit more peculiar. He’s still yet to open his account in the ISL despite the fact he’s made over thirty appearances, so James must know something we don’t.
CK Vineeth looks like he’s on his way out of Kerala which isn’t a great surprise as he’s blown hot and cold this season, nevertheless, there is a very good player still there and if he ends up at Jamshedpur which is being mooted as a possible destination, I’m sure he’ll find his feet again in no time.
That’s not the only piece of business in terms of Jamshedpur; Michael Soosairaj, Chennai City’s skipper of last season, has made the move from the I-League to the ISL. He claimed in his interview after signing that “I always wanted to play in the ISL”, which is weird when you consider the league has only been running for four seasons. Never mind.
NorthEast Have Started to Rebuild
Elsewhere, NorthEast are trying to make amends after a dreadful season as they are being linked with Mohun Bagan’s Nikhil Kadam and Delhi’s Simranjit Singh. They’ll need more than that if they want to challenge next season.
ATK are rumoured to be after Bhutanese striker Chenco Gyeltshen who was part of the Minerva Punjab side that won the I-League against the odds. If that goes through it sort of shows that players are wanting to play in the ISL more than India’s ‘traditional league’ because why would you leave the champions for a team that finished second bottom?
This is just the tip of the iceberg, wait until the actual transfer window opens! We may well be back with another edition of this next week, I don’t see why not, twas much fun.
Until the next time.