The second edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) will kick off on October 3, but a majority of Indian players will miss the first two weeks of the tournament owing to national team commitments.
Atletico Kolkata will begin their title defence against Chennaiyin FC in the first match of the season in Chennai and the final, like last year, will be held on December 20. However, with India scheduled to play the 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup joint qualifiers on October 8 and 13, the national team regulars will be playing for the country from October 5 to October 14, after which they will rejoin their franchises.
India will be travelling to Turkmenistan in October and proceed to Oman on October 13 for two crucial matches that could determine their fate.
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The players will also miss matches that will be held between November 9 and 13, as the country will be hosting Guam in Bangalore on November 12. All the top Indian players will be a part of the ISL this season after the likes of Sunil Chhetri, Robin Singh, who missed out last year, signed up for the auction, which is likely to be held on July 6. A ISL official said the eight franchises have been notified of the national team commitments of the Indian players.
“According to AIFF rules, the franchises will have to release the players four days in advance, including the match day,” the official said. The ISL, meanwhile, promises to be another star-studded affair with the likes of Nicolas Anelka, Elano, Luis Garcia and Zico set to return.
Apart from them, former Manchester City assistant coach David Platt is likely to be named as Pune City’s manager whereas former Manchester United assistant coach Rene Meulensteen and erstwhile Manchester City and Crystal Palace manager Steve Coppell are in the fray to become Mumbai City coach.
DY Patil named provisional venue
the 2017 under-17 World Cup organising panel head Javier Ceppi said the DY Patil Stadium has been selected as a provisional venue for the tournament. He added the Cup will be held in September-October 2017, the only window provided by FIFA. Apart from Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Kochi, Guwahati and Goa are the other likely venues.
Do or die for Dempo
Three-time I-League champions Dempo will take on Salgaocar in a must-win tie of the final round of I-League Saturday. The Goan giants were involved in a relegation battle but a draw would be enough for Salgaocar (21 points) to stay afloat. Dempo, who are 10th with 19 points, will be axed from top division if they fail to win. Shillong Lajong and Sporting Clube de Goa, who are just one point ahead of Dempo, too will need wins against East Bengal and Pune FC .