Credit to the I-League teams for their wins over the rich and powerful Indian Super League (ISL) sides. Or rather Second Division I-League team if one considers that Churchill Brothers finished last on the table. They deserve every bit of credit for their fantastic performance which shall go down in the annals of history as one of the best underdog victories.
Certainly, the motivation levels of the I-League teams was much more and evident for all to see. They wanted to win it and prove a point that they can cause an upset and they very much belong to the big league.
“To be honest the team which won showed more desire; they wanted to win it more than us. They deserve it, in my opinion,” said NorthEast United’s Avram Grant whose side suffered a 2-0 defeat to Gokulam Kerala FC, who finished in the bottom half of the I-League table. This statement comes from an experienced coach who called for parity in the number of foreign players for the ISL and I-League clubs in the Super Cup as opposed to eight and six being proposed by a certain faction which defied logic and common sense.
You could see that the players were going through their motions. There was a distinct lack of interest. Almost every ISL club’s top official, except possibly two franchises, have been in constant touch with each other on how they plan to approach the Super Cup, a tournament whose venue, kick-off dates, regulations, prize money was only decided at the eleventh hour.
Several ISL coaches and even national team players have expressed surprise over the format of the competition or probably, the point of playing in it as there is no berth in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) being awarded to the winner.
Clubs are still mulling whether they would go with six foreigners in the competition or possibly afford an opportunity to the South Americans in their squad to sign another contract in their home country before the next ISL resumes.
While Delhi Dynamos owner Rohan Sharma claimed that he would like to at least make it into the final stages of the Super Cup and end the season on a high, whether the same attitude was reflected on the field against Churchill Brothers is another question altogether.
The format and organization of the Super Cup has to evolve. Just broadcasting the game on television would do no good. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and FIFA dates for international games have been out for more than a year. However, the lack of proper planning is evident in the manner in which the Super Cup has gone about.
If the tournament is been put together haphazardly, do you expect the ISL teams or players to show any desire to win it? Most want to get done with the season and start focusing on the next campaign.
Conducting the Super Cup merely to tick another box in order to show the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) that a tournament has been organised where teams from the two leagues are participating would do no good either.
That an equal platform to compete has been created but the manner in which it has been done leaves a lot to be desired.
It’s time for those in power also to do the same and not come up with such ad hoc solutions which do no good to brand ISL either. Losing to a relegated I-League team does no good to your brand either. Instead of blaming the club, it’s time for those in planning to take the blame and stop passing the buck.
Time for introspection rather than another meeting to do a recce, discuss regulations and more.