ATK play Kerala Blasters in ISL season opener
The fourth season of the Indian Super League, in its new, extended format, will begin on November 17 with last year's finalists ATK playing Kerala Blasters in the opening game. Bengaluru FC will get their first taste of the ISL when they play Mumbai City on November 19 at home, while Jamshedpur FC, the second new team this year, will play North East United away in their first game of the ISL.
Sunil Chhetri, who played for Mumbai City FC for the first three ISL seasons, will face his former team as the Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru will host its first ISL game. Iain Hume, last year's leading scorer with ATK, will also face his former team in his opening game for his new team Kerala Blasters, with whom he started his ISL career.
This season the league will feature plenty of former Premier League stars, including Dimitar Berbatov and Wes Brown, who will play for Kerala Blasters. Teddy Sheringham and former assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson, Rene Meulensteen have taken up coaching responsibilities at ATK and Kerala respectively. Former Tottenham star Robbie Keane and Bolton Wanderers legend Jussi Jääskeläinen, both playing for ATK complete the list of big names to feature this year.
The 10-team league will last four months with 90 matches played between November 17 and March 4. With the league spanning four months, teams will have considerable rest between games, compared to the first three seasons. All league matches will be played from Wednesday to Saturday kicking off at 8 PM IST with Sunday featuring double headers at 5:30 PM and 8 PM respectively.
Steve Coppell, who has assembled a formidable Jamshedpur squad with the likes of Sameehg Doutie and Anas Edathodika, will face ATK at the renovated JRD Tata Sports Complex Stadium for the new team's first home game on December 1.
The dates for the semi-finals and the finals are yet to be announced. But the two-legged semi-finals are scheduled to take place in the second week of March.