As the ISL enters the home stretch with the playoffs being played, we will see the introduction of a brand new tournament which starts on the 15th of March. Step forward, the Indian Super Cup where teams from the I-League and the ISL will face each other in a knockout tournament.
It replaces the Federation Cup from last season, which Bengaluru won and it is why they’re in the AFC Cup this time around. That being said, the same luxury won’t be afforded to the winner of the Super Cup this season as the AFC Cup place has been given to the ISL.
Like The FA Cup, But Different
Think of it like the FA Cup in England. It’s like that, but different. All the games are being played at the same venue which means it loses some of the edge that the FA Cup has got but considering the size of India, you can understand the reasoning behind that.
There are only sixteen places up for grabs and considering there are twenty teams, something’s gotta give. The bottom four sides from each league will face each other to decide who gets the final four spots, again, one game, one stadium, one chance.
The eight sides who will take place in the ‘qualifying rounds’ are NorthEast United, ATK, Mumbai City and Delhi Dynamos from the ISL. In the I-League corner, we’ve got Indian Arrows, Churchill Brothers, Chennai City and Gokulam or Shillong Lajong dependant on what happens in the last round of I-League. If Gokulam beat Mohun Bagan then they’ll enter directly at the knockout stage, if not, they’ll be in the hat for the draw which takes place tomorrow (9th of March).
Winner Takes All
By the time this article is published, we’ll know which one it’ll be and I’m sure football fans around India will be on the edge of their seats awaiting the debut draw for the qualifiers. Can we have one thing straight? If it ends up ISL vs ISL x2 and I-League vs I-League x2, can we redo the draw? Completely defeats the object of the tournament.
Within the squad for the Super Cup, each team are only permitted six foreign players and only five are allowed on the pitch at any given time. The five on the pitch rule has entertained me this season with Miguel Portugal of Delhi taking off Xabi Irureta in goal so he could bring a foreign striker on a particular highlight.
Already qualified for the tournament are as follows: Bengaluru, FC Goa, Chennaiyin, Pune City, Jamshedpur and Kerala Blasters from the ISL and Minerva, NEROCA, Mohun Bagan, Aizawl & Gokulam or Shillong Lajong from the more ‘traditional’ I-League.
Impossible To Call
It’s almost impossible to call in terms of who is going to do what because it’s tough to second-guess the teams, especially if Steve Coppell’s comments after the final league are anything to go by; the former Reading manager had this to say:
“The people I have spoken there is not one coach or player who is looking forward to the competition. We were all told at the start of the season that the Super Cup will be played if there is an AFC slot for the winner. But now we find that the Super Cup is taking place. To be honest I’ll go home now. All the international players are going home. In all the other teams the international players will go home. The clubs will have to bear the expense to bring them back for the Super Cup.”
He makes some valid points as it has been a complete sham in honesty. However, one would think that he would be used to the unorthodox nature of Indian football considering he’s been here for a while now.
31st of March is the date you need to have in your diary as that is when the actual tournament itself starts and I for one think it’ll be blinding. There will be one game a day which keeps it interesting and constantly in your face which is good and we are looking forward to covering it on here. Remember, the draw for the qualifiers is tomorrow, so I’ll be back on Saturday to go through the ties.
Until the next time.