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Dublin: 7°C Sunday 29 November 2020

Anelka, Roberto Carlos & David Platt: The world's most fun league is back for a new season

The Indian Super League has some Irish interest too with Darren O’Dea involved.

Image: IndianSuperLeague via Facebook

IT’S THE DIFFICULT second album for football administrators in India.

Last season, they launched the Indian Super League to much fanfare and brought in a collection of faded stars to drive the coverage.

The likes of Alessandro del Piero, David Trezeguet, Robert Pires, Elano, Luis Garcia and Nicolas Anelka were all signed up by a variety of teams while Zico, Marco Materazzi, Peter Reid and David James were in charge.

Ultimately, Atletico de Kolkata, captained by Garcia, beat James’ Kerala Blasters in the final – the top four sides in the eight-team league qualifying for a play-off series.

The debut campaign was a success. The average league attendance was 26,505 with the opening weekend attracting some crowds of over 60,000.

India Soccer Pires Suspended Both David Trezeguet and Robert Pires were involved in the ISL last year. Source: Rafiq Maqbool/AP/Press Association Images

The television audience  whopping – 29 million tuning in on a per-game basis. Of course, put in the context of the size of the country and the level of dominance the country’s cricket league, it loses some of its initial gloss.

Still, lots to build on. Because of the small number of teams, the competition is fast and furious with the final game played within two months of the opener.

It means attention is retained and viewers aren’t investing in a 9-month odyssey.

This year, there were some changes like a player auction (similar to Indian cricket teams) and some new faces – Florent Malouda, Adrian Mutu, Helder Postiga, Lucio and John Arne Riise.

There’s even an Irish angle with former Irish international Darren O’Dea is part of the Mumbai City team which has Anelka as a player-manager.

Soccer - 2014 FIFA World Cup - Qualifier - Group C - Faroe Islands v Republic of Ireland - Torsvollur Former Irish international Darren O'Dea will be part of the ISL this term. Source: Alvur Haraldsen/PA Archive/PA Images

This weekend, Mumbai take on Pune City, a side coached by David Platt and with former Chelsea striker Adrian Mutu up front.

Elsewhere, Roberto Carlos has taken charge of Dehli Dynamos – Riise’s club while Postiga has joined Kolkata, the reigning champions.

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Perhaps the most interesting player in the league is Elano – the 34-year-old Brazilian never quite set the Premier League alight when at Manchester City but is certainly a cult hero.

He was a real star of the ISL’s first season, scoring 8 times for Chennaiyin FC (managed by Marco Materazzi) and finishing as the league’s top scorer.

So, one question remains. Who will you be supporting?

Indian Super League 2015

Atletico de Kolkata (Star Player: Helder Postiga)

Chennaiyin (Star Player: Elano)

Dehli Dynamos (Star Player: Florent Malouda)

Goa (Star Player: Lucio)

Kerala Blasters (Star Player: Carlos Marchena)

Mumbai City (Star Player: Nicolas Anelka)

NorthEast United (Star Player: Simao Sabrosa)

Pune City (Star Player: Adrian Mutu)

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About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

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