ISL Season 3 is less than a month away and we are excited! And who wouldn’t be, really – most of us Indians have had only TV to thank to having been able to watch French demigod Robert Pires saunter with the ball gracefully. Or goal machines David Trezeguet and Alessandro Del Piero repeatedly bang the ball into the net. Or even a certain Brazilian called Roberto Carlos come up with killer free kicks. Before the ISL, that is. The ISL’s brought us the opportunity to sit up and admire, live in front of our eyes, not only talented young Indian footballers but also superstars of the game who will go down as immortal legends. Speaking of legends, let’s take a look at the marquee players this season.
Atletico de Kolkata – Helder Postiga
Atletico de Kolkata signed Portuguese forward Helder Postiga last season, and has retained his services for this season as well. Postiga is a strong striker who played at the tip of a 4231 or 451 system during his time as an attacking mainstay for Portugal, having contributed 27 international goals in 71 appearances, and reached the Euro 2004 final with them. He’s had one of those nomadic careers, having played for clubs in native Portugal, England, France, Spain, Italy, Greece and now India. When Atletico recruited him last season, he was 32 and expected to be a less injury-prone marquee signing than his predecessor Luis Garcia. Ironically, he suffered an injury in his very first game for them, but only after he had scored twice in a 3-2 victory over Chennaiyin FC. His experience and influence on and off the pitch should cement his employers’ status as a force to be reckoned with.
Chennaiyin FC – John Arne Riise
Liverpool and Norwegian legend John Arne Riise has joined defending champions Chennaiyin FC for ISL 2016. He’s got some big shoes to fill, considering Brazilian’s Elano was exceedingly effective for Chennaiyin in his two years with them. Riise’s got all the potential to do that, having been a UEFA Champions League winner with Liverpool. He’s also scored 16 goals in 110 international appearances for Norway, and most of them were from left-back, mind you. He’s one of those defenders who have the uncanny knack of being set piece experts, and his left foot has scored many free kicks for his clubs, which include Roma and Monaco, apart from Liverpool of course. He’s got experience of playing in the ISL too, from his time with the Delhi Dynamos in the first season. His versatility to play in midfield as well as his cool head under pressure would surely be vital to a Chennayin team with a never-say-die attitude that they have displayed in past seasons.
(to be continued)
(Article written by Akarsh, Football content Analyst. Follow him @akarshvenkat )