Report9 : Indian Super League 2015 Since long, most famous exports of Brazil have been its coffee and footballers to various leagues across the world. Footballers of Brazil were part of the inaugural season of the Indian Super League (ISL), but in this edition there has been a notable increase in the number of those from the South American country. Only eight got dressed in ISL colours for the inaugural edition last year.
Now, there are 18. Legendary Zico-coached FC Goa has signed seven from the South American nation, while Chennaiyin FC have five in their ranks. The Delhi Dynamos have four players, while Mumbai City FC and Kerala Blasters have one each. Only defending champions Atletico de Kolkata, Pune City FC and NorthEast United hold squads without a Brazilian.
As the number of professional clubs in Brazil has remained unchanged, the pace at which players are being churned out has resulted in supply being more than demand back home. The quality players are more often than not chosen by by foreign clubs most high-profile case of recent vintage has been that of Neymar, moving from Santos to Barcelona. With the wandering athletes constantly in search of new pastures, the success of the inaugural season of the ISL has made the league a viable option for the men from Brazil.
“Most of the Brazilians who played here last year had a good season. That made quite a difference. And now there are others too,” says Mumbai City FC forward Andre Moritz, who has returned for the franchise this year.
“But that said, I’ve never been a part of a team that has not had a single Brazilian in it,” he adds. Team officials too looked at the arrival of players as an opportunity to strengthen their respective squads. FC Goa coach Zico is one of them.
“I know the players well. So I’m hoping they can implement my philosophy when they play,” says Zico, who has often promoted a typically Brazilian attack-minded approach. “The Brazilian players are not in the team only because they are Brazilians. They are all good players,” he said. Chennaiyin FC head coach Marco Materazzi joked that the five Brazilians in his team would be a handful for the opposition.
For the likes of FC Goa’s veteran defender Lucio, who won the 2002 World Cup with the Seleção, the opportunity to play under his idol Zico was too great to refuse. “That was the incentive for me to come here. Playing for
Zico is something I’ve wanted to do in my career and now I’m getting that chance,” he asserts. Of the eight marquee players in the ISL, three are Brazilian — Lucio, Elano Blumer from the Chennai side, and Roberto Carlos, the player-coach of the Delhi Dynamos.
However, Carlos may just be the most well remembered from the current crop of ISL Brazilians. He too won the 2002 World Cup and has three Champions League medals he won with Real Madrid. But it is the powerful ‘banana-shot’ freekick he scored against France in 1997 that remained etched in the fan’s memory.
And even during the 42-year-old’s first ever press appearance in India during the ISL auction, the quality of the players his team had purchased was always going to be the secondary question. The first was about that one particular freekick.
Zico said that it was too early to compare ISL with top leagues of Europe FC Goa coach Zico and Brazilian football legend feels ISL has done a lot for Indian football but will take time to be able to compare with the best leagues in the world.
It was added by Zico that ultimately the ISL will have to be a full-fledged league similar to their counterparts in other countries with seventh-eight
months duration. “The first season was a success but it is too early to compare ISL with top leagues in the world. But it has done a lot of good in Indian football. It has brought Indian football to the knowledge of the world,” he said at a media event here ahead of the second season beginning October 3.
“The duration of three months is not enough. It will have to be of similar duration as in other leagues in other countries. Ultimately, India will have to have one league,” he added. Kerala Blasters coach Peter Taylor also realised that it was too early to make a comparison with other top leagues but said that increasing number of players in Europe know about ISL now.