The I-League is all set to be back in action from 26 December 2021. It will be hosted in Kolkata under strict bio-bubble due to the prevailing Covid-19 situation in India. The I-League is popular for being unpredictable and very competitive. It houses some of the finest domestic players that do not enjoy the limelight that others might in the Indian Super League.
The passion football fans have for the I-League is immense, because of the wealth of talent in it. There are many notable foreign players plying their trade in the I-League which makes elevates the quality of football at the display. The upcoming 2021-22 season has a lot of brilliant things in store. In terms of the competition, there are many new entrants which will try to thwart the supremacy of the well-accustomed iconic clubs with a long history of playing in the I-League.
On that note, The Bridge takes a look at what one can expect from the I-League 2021-22 season:
Rajasthan United to be the underdogs
Rajasthan United secured promotion to the I-League after winning the I-League 2nd Division Qualifiers. The outfit finished ahead of the likes of Kenkre FC, Delhi FC, Madan Maharaj, Kerala United, Bengaluru United and more. Rajasthan United, in preparation for the cut-throat competition of the I-League, signed impressive foreign players in their squad.
Former ISL star Marcelinho, I-League winner Komron Tursunov along with the likes of Diego Bielkiewicz, Akeem Abioye and Fabiano Alves complete their foreign contingent. Rajasthan United has a strong foreign presence and the factor of the unknown will work in their favour. The prospect of them winning the I-League is not a far-fetched dream.
Exciting new foreign talents
As aforementioned, the I-League is also home to many exciting foreign players. Established stars like Fran Gonzalez (Real Kashmir), Willis Plaza (Aizawl FC) and more will grace the field. Joining them will be many new faces such as Nikola Stojanovic (Mohammedan SC), Marcelinho(Rajsthan United), David Castaneda (Sreenidhi Deccan FC) and many more.
Foreign players are essential and they play crucial roles in every team. One can expect them to shine for their respective clubs. It will also be interesting to see how they adapt to the competition and manage to influence the games with their quality.
Stiff competition for the title
The I-League is going to be very unpredictable, especially after the emergence of three new teams in the league. Moreover, the competition has been very hard to predict historically, with a different champion practically every year. Last edition's winners Gokulam Kerala FC will need to perform out of their skins to defend the title.
Outfits like Mohammedan SC, Rajasthan United, RoundGlass Punjab FC, etc, all have the potential to win the title. Multiple teams will stake a claim for the top place and aim to finish atop the points table. There are no playoffs, meaning the race will be absolutely fierce and lead to entertaining matches throughout the season.
Mohammedan SC to mount a strong challenge
In the upcoming season, Mohammedan SC is a particular team to watch out for. The Kolkata giants had a very strong pre-season and has wind beneath their wings. Winning the Calcutta Football League after 40 years and then reaching the final of the Durand Cup 2021 gives them a lot of momentum heading into the I-League.
The Black Panthers also have the likes of Nikola Stojanovic who is the skipper of the team and will be making his debut in the I-League. Furthermore, players like Andjelo Rudovic, Marcus Joseph and Shaher Shaheen make up a strong and balanced foreign contingent which will give Mohammedan SC an edge over other contenders.