Defending champions ATK Mohun Bagan FC will take on Kerala Blasters FC in the opening fixture
PANAJI: Defending champions ATK Mohun Bagan FC will take on Kerala Blasters FC in the opening fixture of the highly-anticipated schedule for Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-2021 season in Goa on November 20.
The upcoming campaign promises to be bigger and more exciting than ever before with SC East Bengal’s inclusion to the Hero ISL, guaranteeing an unprecedented 115 matches of action-packed football.
All 11 teams have added top quality players to their squads as the clubs prepare to battle it out for the coveted Hero ISL trophy as well as the League Winners Shield. All fixtures till January 11, 2021 have been revealed and here we check out some of the most exciting matches to look forward to.
Kerala Blasters FC vs ATK Mohun Bagan FC – November 20, 2020
ATK Mohun Bagan and Kerala Blasters FC kick off the Hero ISL season yet again, and the Kochi-based club will be looking to win their third straight season opening fixture against them. Kerala was triumphant against the Kolkata club on both occasions when they squared off against each other last season and their new head coach Kibu Vicuna will be eager for more of the same in Hero ISL 2020-21’s curtain raiser as the Blasters eye their first top four finish since 2016.
Antonio Lopez Habas, on the other hand, will be aware of what the Kochi-based club is capable of after falling short against them twice last season and the Spaniard will be eager to make amends with his team as they look to start their campaign on a high.
Jamshedpur FC vs Chennaiyin FC – November 24, 2020
After a memorable season with Chennaiyin FC, Owen Coyle will be eager to have a similar impact with his new club Jamshedpur FC in Hero ISL 2020-21. Coyle and Jamshedpur will look to begin their campaign on a high when they square off against Chennaiyin in both clubs’ opening fixture of the season. Jamshedpur FC have never managed to qualify for the Hero ISL playoffs, but that might change under the tutelage of Coyle, who guided Chennaiyin to the final in his maiden season with the club after joining them midseason.
Coincidentally, Coyle’s first Hero ISL match as Chennaiyin boss was a 1-1 draw against Jamshedpur FC and he’s now set to take on the Marina Machans in his first match as head coach of the Jharkhand-based club.
FC Goa vs Mumbai City FC – November 25, 2020
Matches between Mumbai City FC and FC Goa have always been a goal fest with 13 goals scored across both encounters between the sides last season. However, Hero ISL 2020-21 will be even more intriguing as the Islanders, led by former Goa head coach Sergio Lobera, have built a formidable team. The Maharashtra-based outfit have also roped in four first team players from Goa, making the clash between the two sides a highly anticipated fixture.
Furthermore, Mumbai have endured four big defeats against Goa in past and it’ll be interesting to see how they fare against the Gaurs with Lobera now a part of the Islanders’ camp.
SC East Bengal vs ATK Mohun Bagan FC – November 27, 2020
Arguably the most anticipated game of the season, Indian football’s biggest and oldest rivalry will be staged in the Hero ISL for the first time when ATK Mohun Bagan FC lock horns with SC East Bengal. One of the biggest derbies in Asia, ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Habas will be aware of the significance of Kolkata derby having spent plenty of time in the city of joy as he eyes his third Hero ISL trophy.
East Bengal boss Robbie Fowler, on the other hand, will be hoping to hit the ground running with his club and endear himself to the fans in their first season in the league and there’s no better way to do that than a win over their most fierce rivals.
Chennaiyin FC vs Bengaluru FC – December 4, 2020
One of the biggest southern rivalries to look out for in the league, Chennaiyin FC and Bengaluru FC have both won thrice each during the seven encounters between the two teams in the Hero ISL. The Marina Machans, in fact, beat the Blues in the 2017-18 Hero ISL final, winning 3-2 on the night. With pride and points both at stake whenever the two teams battle it out, there’s usually a lot riding on this encounter for the teams and fans alike.
The competitive nature of this fixture can also be highlighted by the fact that neither team has ever managed to do the double over the other during the league stage of a season.
FC Goa vs Chennaiyin FC – December 19, 2020
Whenever FC Goa and Chennaiyin FC cross swords, expect high-octane and drama filled contests with plenty of goals and pulsating action. It is the most played fixture in Hero ISL history (17), including the 2015 final, when Chennaiyin beat FC Goa in dramatic fashion to win their first trophy. Last season witnessed the Gaurs getting the better of Chennaiyin FC during the league stage, but the Marina Machans eventually had the last laugh, beating FC Goa 6-5 on aggregate in the semi-finals.
Both teams begin the season with new head coaches as well as players in their ranks and they will be looking to get one over their rivals in what promises to be another entertaining encounter.