Gokulam Kerala and Churchill Brothers vanquished a distinctly average NorthEast United FC and Delhi Dynamos respectively. On Saturday, Mumbai City FC were almost beaten by Indian Arrows while ATK defeated Chennai City FC 4-1.
But the nature of these results have hurt the image of the ISL on a whole.
The ISL is supposed to have raised the standards of Indian football with professional clubs, the cream of Indian players and better quality foreigners when compared to its poorer cousin, the I-League.
Yes, the ISL clubs are genuinely not interested in taking part in a competition which has no point but to stretch their season out, since there is no Asian Football Confederation Cup spot on offer. The Super Cup, in all fairness, in its current format is an exercise in futility. It is not really a barometer to compare teams from both the leagues.
The ISL teams are not motivated to play the tournament and their foreigners only want to get done with the season and fly out to their countries. The South American players can go back and earn a contract at their home country before the next ISL. But motivated or not, the kind of results we've seen in the initial two days are hurting the brand of ISL big time.
We've seen a relegated I-League team in Churchill Brothers knock out Delhi Dynamos. We've seen newcomers to the I-League, Gokulam Kerala, who put their squad together just 2-3 weeks before the league outclass, NorthEast United FC and now we've seen a group of 17 & 18 year olds almost hand a humiliating defeat to Mumbai City FC who were playing with five foreigners.
ATK defeated Chennai CIty 4-1, yes. But take cognizance of the fact that Chennai City played just two foreigners and matched ATK for large parts of the game, only for individual mistakes to scuper them.
It sparks a thought in the minds of the general public who will be wondering where the disparity between the two leagues is? What good did all the pre-season in Europe and Middle-East under foreign coaches do to you if you can't beat a team that did not even have a notion of pre-season?
Take into consideration that Mumbai City are a team which has invested almost ₹15.87 crores into their squad while the kids of Indian Arrows would be worth about ₹1 crore. And consider the fact that Rahul KP should have won the game for the Arrows in regulation time. Even Everton Santos' winner should have been saved comfortably by Prabsukhan Gill.
It just goes on to reinforce the lack of desire and motivation for the players as mentioned earlier.
Of course, the top ISL clubs are yet to play but so are the top I-League clubs. And the top four of the ISL are of different class altogether, having a lot of resources invested in the team.They consist of some top-notch players. But a general onlooker might argue the best I-League clubs like Minerva Punjab or East Bengal are also yet to play. Given the kind of results we've seen, who could blame them for thinking so?
Forget about a unified league. Forget about a merger. People have been given a chance to bash ISL now and rightly so.
Of course, we're not implying that the ISL teams are not better than I-League but the image and general perception that the ISL has better standards will take a hit. The Super Cup has been a bane for ISL so far and a boon for I-League.
Certainly, this idea of getting ISL teams, who have no motivation, to play highly-motivated I-League teams at the end of season has been a disaster for brand ISL!