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ISL 2020-21: Once the footballing capital, players from Bengal are now few and far in between

ISL 2020-21: Once the footballing capital, players from Bengal are now few and far in between

Sayan Chatterjee

Published: 4 Jan 2021 12:52 PM GMT

In a stark departure from yesteryears, Bengal features just 26 players in the Indian Super League (ISL), the top division in Indian football, this season. That is less than three players on average at each club. Moreover, outside of the two Kolkata legacy clubs, SC East Bengal and ATK Mohun Bagan, the remaining nine teams have just 13 players who are either from or have a connection to West Bengal. Compare that to 43 players from Manipur in total and the shift in balance is as clear as day.

Gone are the days when you would see the Mehtab Hossains, Sandip Nandys and the Dipendu Biswases form the spine of clubs in the I-League or ISL. Even in the late 90s and 2000s, most teams would have a sizable Bengali contingent within their squad. This was mainly down to the love and passion with which the whole of Bengal follows the beautiful game. It was also because of the Maidan culture that is prevalent in Kolkata and other cities in West Bengal.

That in turn resulted in countless ‘spotters’ of talent who have been associated with the industry in some capacity for years now. However, football in Bengal has been stagnant for some time. The number of stakeholders seem to have increased but that of people who are emotionally invested in finding and nurturing young talent seems to have gone down considerably. The number of coaches has also decreased over the years. And with elite academies and football schools opening up all over the country, Bengal seems to have fallen behind in the race for churning out top footballers.

Club-wise break up:

ATK Mohun Bagan

Arindam Bhattacharjee, Subhasish Bose, Pritam Kotal, Prabir Das, Pronay Halder, SK Sahil, Fardin Ali Molla

Chennaiyin FC

Samik Mitra, Abhijit Sarkar, Rahim Ali

SC East Bengal

Sankar Roy, Debjit Majumder, Ankit Mukherjee, Narayan Das, Subhasish Roychowdhury, Mohammed Rafique (Rafique Ali Sardar and Samad Ali Mallick are not included)

Hyderabad FC

Subrata Pal, Souvik Chakrabarti, Abhishek Halder

Jamshedpur FC

Sandip Mandi, Billu Teli, Harsha Parui.

Kerala Blasters

Ritwik Das

Mumbai City FC

Sarthak Golui, Sourav Das

NorthEast United

Provat Lakra

Bengaluru FC, Odisha FC and FC Goa


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