Best Teams In The Indian Soccer Championship

The Indian Super League (ISL) is the top-flight football league in the populous subcontinent of India. After a parallel championship league play with rival I-League, it gained formal recognition from the Indian FA and the Asian Football Confederation.

The I-League has since been designated as the second-tier league in the country. ISL filled in as the colossal stage to allow local developing footballers to foster their talents while testing their metal against some of the best professional footballers in the region and the world.

Congruently, it has helped stabilize the nurturing of homegrown talent to forge a pipeline to youth and senior national teams. Since its inception, the league has grown in leaps and bounds. Money and notoriety come from Bollywood icons, cricket stars, tycoons, and national businesses, including sportsbooks for people to bet in India.

With a massive local market for football in a cricket hungry nation, expect the ISL to grow even more. Let us take a look at some of the top teams playing in the ISL.

1. Chennaiyin FC

The former champions and early claimants to the title of 'best team in the history of the ISL,' Chennaiyin FC came out of the gates strong. The two-time league winners have one of the largest fan bases in Indian football.

They are looking to make it three title wins this campaign riding the strong output from star player Jeje Lalpekhula with roster additions to augment the side. Montenegrin Bodizar Bandovic coaches them. Their defense is still one of the best in the league, an entire sounding board as they look to make noise.

2. Kerala Blasters FC

A founding franchise of the ISL, the Kerala Blasters have set a budding tradition of continued success. They finished second in the inaugural campaign in 2014, with successive runner up finishes in 2015 & 2016.

The Blasters, based in Kochi, play their home games at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium. The PVP Group owns and operates the franchise, with previous ownership counting the likes of cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar.

The head coaching vacancy has been filled by David James, a hire expected to galvanize the dressing room to maintain the winning culture in Kerala. They finished the previous campaign in a good run of form, one they hope to hold in their pursuit of the title and bragging rights.

3. Mumbai City FC

The defending champions underwent a rebuild in 2016, making a managerial change and rejuvenating the squad. They signed the marquee name Diego Forlan to a short deal, a piece of business that helped buoy them to the title in that campaign.

They reinvigorated their defense with new players who were hungrier and more solid. The team is owned by Bimal Parekh and Ranbir Kanpoor.

4. Atletico De Kolkata

The winningest team, also a founding franchise of the ISL, Atletico De Kolkata or as they are now known, ATK Mohun Bagan, is the team with the most pedigree in the ISL. After winning the inaugural championship, they proceeded to win twice more in 2016 and 2019 against the Kerala Blasters and Chennaiyin FC, respectively.

They hold the record of the priciest franchise fee ever paid in Indian football, a staggering $180 million. Their ownership group comprises Sports Pvt Ltd and Kolkata Games. The former is a consortium of Sanjeev Goenka, Harsha Vardhan, Utsav Parekh, and cricketing icon Sourav Ganguly.

After a debacle of a campaign in 2017-18 where they came short of making the playoffs for the first time in their history, they made a coaching change by bringing former Manchester United man Steve Coppell to course-correct and get them back to winning ways.

5. FC Goa

FC Goa has been one of the steadiest sides in the ISL. They sport one of the most lethal goal-scoring records in the history of the ISL. This has seen them get to two championship finals. While they have lost both of them, they did manage to win the League Winner's Shield in 2020.

Hailing from the single territory in India that recognizes football as the state's official sport, FC Goa has a stacked roster, host to an excellent combination of youth and experience with the talent and skill to make a run at the championship title.

The Indian Super League is snowballing with expansion anticipated and player development beginning to bear fruit. Increased potential to leverage better media rights and sponsorships is the ISL's future, and, indeed, Indian football is bright.

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