(Image Credit: Sunil Chhetri Twitter)
Mohun Bagan, East Bengal in ISL a huge thing : Sunil Chhetri
The Indian star striker welcomed the inclusion of the Kolkata giants in the league.
Indian national team and Bengaluru FC star Sunil Chhetri has welcomed the inclusion of the two Kolkata giants, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan in the Indian Super League (ISL).
Mohun Bagan has made its foray into the league after merging with three times ISL champions ATK and rechristened itself as ATK Mohun Bagan (ATK MB).
Meanwhile, East Bengal roped in Shree Cement as investors this season, and riding on their back, the Red and Gold have also joined the elite bandwagon this season.
Chhetri said that the two clubs have been monumental in stature in Indian football and that it is a huge thing for them to play alongside the top Indian players in the league, “Mohun Bagan and East Bengal coming in is a huge thing. I have been in Indian football for 19 years. Both clubs are monumental in stature and synonymous with Indian football. For them to play alongside the top Indian players in the ISL is huge."
He further expressed the disappointment over the absence of the crowd this season, which otherwise is a regular thing when the Kolkata Giants take to the field but is hopeful that the fans will be vociferous over other platforms and that the addition of these teams will make the league even more competitive, “It is a shame that their fans will not be there in the stadium, but I am sure that they will make themselves heard on other platforms. The tournament will be very competitive with their entry."
Chhetri further talked about the challenges the players and the team will face this season. As all the league action will be only in three venues in Goa itself, the 36-year old feels that the team will miss the home ground, Sree Kanteerava, and will be bereft of the fans support home and away, staying in a bubble for five months, which will be a tough task, “Yes, there are many challenges this season. We will not be able to play at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru. Our fans, who also travel to watch away matches, will not be there this season. Not having our fans is a big miss. We also have to stay for five months in the bubble, which is not going to be easy."
The National team skipper further said that the players were not too happy about the strict safety bubble against COVID-19, but he told them it was 'a small price' they paid to be able to play the tournament in the country, which is currently not yet in a better situation against the pandemic, “There were murmurs in our dressing room about the strict bubble, but I told them that it is a very small price to pay to be able to play a big tournament.
“Not many people in the world enjoy the benefits that we do. In a country where people are fighting for fundamental things, we are being allowed to play a football tournament and do what we enjoy,” he stated.
Chhetri further said that the team will have to be cautious about player injuries, since not much time is left for the commencement of the league, once the full team starts to train, the players will have to be careful of the injuries that may happen, "In just 16 days, we will play our first ISL game. But we’re yet to train properly with the full team.
“The only thing I’m skeptical about is players getting injured when we start training with the full team. The chances of getting injuries are really high. We must avoid injuries in order to do well,” Chhetri said.