Arsenal and Man UTD Legends to Grace Indian Soil

Arsenal and Man UTD

Thierry Henry!!

Paul Scholes!!

The Neville Brothers!!

Cole and Yorke!!

Robert Pires!!

Ryan Giggs!!

David Seaman!!

Saha, Silvestre, Irwin, Parker, Butt!!!!

Aaaaahhh! I believe it’s time for football fans to go mad. I know I am. It seems that all these great names I have listed above will be gracing Indian soil.

Arsenal and Man UTD

Arsenal and Man UTD in India!

No, I have not invented a time machine. Neither have I figured out a way to enter an alternate universe where the Indian Super League is greater than English Premier League and I am the de facto manager of Arsenal. If pigs had wings…

What I have come across is information that these legends of the great game of football will be playing a couple of Masters Cup matches in Goa.

When? You ask me with your tongue lolling and drooling about like a football sycophant?

Don’t worry mine is dangling like an anteater too!

The games will occur in the first week of June. June 3 and June 7 to be precise.

The first match will supposedly take place at the Cooperage stadium of Mumbai City FC, while the second match will be hosted by the Nehru Stadium of FC Goa.

What’s The Gig about Arsenal and Man UTD Players in India?

Arsenal and Man UTD

Henry and Pires

While I don’t like to wonder about the guthli (the seed for all the foreigners here) while gobbling down the aam (that will be the mango around the seed), my journalistic sense tingles every time I give it a bye.

The news is that the Western India Football Association (WIFA) and Goa Football Association (GFA) have been directed by the Indo Global Foundation to prepare the facilities of the games.

Supposedly, they have actually been asked to make ‘elaborate arrangements’, keeping with the importance of the event.

I like this Indo Global Foundation already. They seem to know their football and seem to also have their priorities right i.e. football before politics. I wonder who they are though because I can’t find jack about them anywhere except for a barely fleshed out Facebook page.

If any one of you knows, kindly give me a heads-up. I’m very curious.

An Annual Football Masters Cup in India

Schole and Giggs

Schole and Giggs

Back to the story here – it seems that this event will be an annual affair, if you’re willing to believe Henry Menezes, the CEO of WIFA.

I am inclined to believe him simply because he revealed that his stadium has already been booked by the organisers. According to him, there will be a total of 32 ex – Arsenal and Man UTD players, of which 26 would have World Cup caps in their records.

The Indo Global Foundation chose to not reveal the names of the players citing the lame excuse that the ‘charm will be lost’. He did give away some information by stating that there will be 10 players at the level of ISL Marquee players. He went on to add that having a minimum of 100 caps is a loose prerequisite.

ISL Blog had earlier reported on the chances of Thierry Henry coming to India. Apparently, we were just off by the timing.

Still, the names we came up with above were leaked out. Smart strategy from the organisers that!

Now we look forwards to the first match, which is just under a month away!

FC Goa 2015 Squad – Lucio to Be Their ISL Marquee Player?

Lucio for FC Goa 2015 Squad

FC Goa look all set to make the ISL 2015 season even better than their ISL 2014 season. The preparations have been fast-tracked which has resulted in the Goans almost on the verge of finalising their ISL 2015 squad. The highlight of moves being made in terms of FC Goa 2015 squad is that they may sign the Brazilian defender Lucio as their next ISL Marquee Player.

Who Is Lucio and What’s Will He Bring to FC Goa 2015 Squad?

Lucio boasts of a career that can make most footballers envious. He has won virtually everything there is to be won in a footballer’s career. His accolades include.

  • FIFA World Cup with Brazil (2002)
  • FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil (2005 and 2009)
  • UEFA Champions League with Inter Milan (2009-2010)
  • Coppa Italia with Inter Milan (2009-2010 and 2010-2011)
  • Serie A with Inter Milan (2009-2010)
  • DFB – Ligapokal or German League Cup with Bayern Munich (2004 and 2007)
  • DFB – Pokal or German Cup with Bayern Munich (2004-2005, 2005-2006, and 2007-2008)
  • Bundesliga with Bayern Munich (2004-2005, 2005-2006, and 2007-2008)
Lucio for FC Goa 2015 Squad

Lucio for FC Goa 2015 Squad

Lucio will bring a lot of experience to the FC Goa 2015 squad defence and will most probably by partnering Gregory Arnolin who had a wonderful debut Indian Super League season last time out.

The Brazilian is typically a no nonsense defender with a lot of upper body strength and a good leap off the ground. His ball control skills, while not legendary, are good enough for him to be a ball playing defender in the ISL.

At the age of 36, Lucio may not have a lot of speed, but he will look to compensate for that with his experience. Lucio also has a mean freekick on him.

Why Is Lucio Replacing Robert Pires as FC Goa’s ISL Marquee Player?

Robert Pires, FC Goa

Goodbye FC Goa

It comes as no surprise that FC Goa have decided on a new ISL Marquee Player as Robert Pires could only play eight games out of a total of 16.

In fact, if you assess Pires’s contributions in those eight games, it becomes clear why FC Goa’s pragmatic coach Zico chose to do without him and look to add Lucio to the FC Goa 2015 squad. Here are Pires’s stats.

  • Played eight games,
  • Didn’t complete those eight games and only played 561 minutes which is equivalent to just over six full games, and
  • Scored one goal and made no assists.

The impact of Robert Pires was limited on the pitch. These numbers aren’t surprising because at the age of 41, everyone knew that Pires was brought in for marketing reasons rather than footballing reasons.

Lucio or Riquelme; Zico Chooses

Juan Roman Riquelme

Juan Roman Riquelme

Zico was actually given a list of players who were interested in becoming ISL Marquee players for FC Goa 2015 squad. In the end, Zico shortlisted Lucio and Juan Roman Riquelme as potential member of FC Goa 2015 squad.

Those of you who’ve been following football for some time will remember Riquelme being brought to Europe by the resurgent Barcelona FC in 2002. Riquelme only played for Barcelona 30 times in three years before he was shipped to Villareal FC.

Riquelme actually made a name for himself with the Yellow Submarine. At Villareal Riquelme pulled strings from the midfield with Diego Forlan, who is being linked with Atletico De Kolkata, the most obvious beneficiary. Both would go on to become famous players from their countries and in Europe. Riquelme will be 37 years and is an attacking midfielder.

Riquelme’s age and the fact that he plays in midfield is probably why Zico chose to go with Lucio over him. Riquelme retired in 2011-2012 before making a comeback for his childhood team Boca Juniors. At the beginning of this Riquelme retired again but is still being connected to ISL as a potential ISL Marquee Player. Riquelme, by the way, also has a very good freekick on him.

I believe Zico made a wiser and much more informed choice in choosing Lucio over Riquelme for FC Goa 2015 sqaud. The reason for this is that the latter may not have much in the tank for the rigours of ISL. Lucio is a safer bet and has shown a keen interest in working with Zico.

Zico Key to Lucio’s Potential Arrival to Indian Shores

Zico, seeing the potential of his team, has decided to get a player who is only 36 and can contribute far more than Pires did at 36 to the FC Goa 2015 squad. It’s also a smart move to sign a central defender as the ISL Marquee Player because central defenders tend to have longer playing careers. Central defenders aren’t required to have a lot of stamina since they don’t have to run as much as midfielders who cover much greater areas.

For example, Paolo Maldini, the epitome of central defenders in recent history played at the top of the ladder till he was 41. Maldini was playing for AC Milan as late as 2009. He was born in 1968. Granted, players like Maldini come once in a lifetime but Lucio is also in the same mould. What’s better is that Lucio is only 36 and is still playing at the top of the league in Brazil. More importantly, Lucio looks to be very keen to work with the legendary coach Zico.

Mainstream media is reporting that Lucio already has a written offer in front of him. Moreover, it is expected that he will sign very soon, if he hasn’t already.

Atletico De Kolkata 2015 Squad – Kaka and Forlan Dream Team!

Atletico De KolkataAtletico De Kolkata was underwhelming last time:

I said it.

Others said it.

Atletico knows it.

The world knows it.

This time around, though, Atletico De Kolkata 2015 squad may turn out to have even more flair than FC Goa 2015 squad. We can expect to have a distinctly different Atletico De Kolkata 2015 squad.


Because they may get Kaka and Diego Forlan both to play for them this time!

The Brazilian Maestro in Atletico De Kolkata 2015 Squad

You know how the Prince of Kolkata, Saurav Ganguly, owns half of the Atletico De Kolkata franchise? Well, he has revealed that his club is deep in negotiations with Kaka.

About Kaka… talks are going on, but nothing have been finalised yet

The chances of Kaka joining the Atletico De Kolkata 2015 squad aren’t that bad especially since there’re rumours that Kaka’s current contract is due to expire this season.

Kaka, like all modern football greats, moved to Major League Soccer (MLS) in the US. Kaka signed for Orlando City last year to become the highest paid player in the MLS. Since Orlando City weren’t playing immediately, Kaka went to Sao Paulo where he first made a name for himself.

Kaka to join Atletico De Kolkata 2015 squad?Kaka is a world beater. There was a period of two to three years in his career when he was considered to be the best player in the world in the league of Ronaldo and Messi.

This was a period when he won the Ballon D’Or as well as the FIFA World Player of the Year awards. The only reason this period wasn’t extended was that Kaka had to undergo surgery for a long term injury. After the surgery, he was never the same.

Between his excellence and injury, Kaka can be anything from glorious in the Red and White to ignominious in the same jersey. At the very least, his style of play should excite not only the Bengali football fans but also football faithfuls the country over.

In terms of how he plays, he has virtually everything! He can beat players on the dribble, he can see a sexy pass and get it, he can shoot from distance with precision, and he can do it all with a rare grace and artistry.

How good is Kaka? Here are his accolades to give you an idea.

  • Serie A with AC Milan (2003-2004)
  • UEFA Champions League with AC Milan (2006-2007)
  • La Liga with Real Madrid (2011-2012)
  • Copa del Rey (2010-2011)
  • FIFA World Cup (2002)
  • FIFA Confederations Cup (2005 and 2009)
  • Serie A Footballer of the Year (2004 and 2007)
  • FIFA World Player of the Year (2007)
  • UEFA Club Footballer of the Year (2006-2007)
  • Ballon D’Or (2007)
  • World Soccer Player of the Year (2007)
  • Time 100 (2008 and 2009)
  • AC Milan Hall of Fame

How can those accolades not get you excited?

Kaka to Supply the Uruguayan Sniper

Even the best attacking midfielders in the world would be duds if they had dud strikers in front of them. And, I’m sorry, while Fikru is no dud; he is no dude either. Quite simply, his finishing is nothing to write home about.

So, if Kaka was put behind Fikru, he might improve his goals tally but the Atletico De Kolkata 2015 squad will still remain dull. Fikru could never do justice to Kaka’s skill and technique.

So, how is Atletico De Kolkata solving this problem? They’re about to rope in another footballing great.

Enter Diego Forlan – of the Manchester United, Villareal, Atletico Madrid, and Uruguay fame!

Forlan for Atletico De Kolkata 2015 squadThe chances of this Forlan joining the Atletico De Kolkata 2015 squad are better than Kaka’s because of Atletico De Kolkata’s Atletico Madrid connection. The relationship between the Spanish club and its former players has benefited Atletico De Kolkata as they could approach those players freely.

Also, like Kaka, Forlan’s contract is going to expire later this year as well in May. He’s currently employed with Cerezo Osaka in Japan. Forlan hasn’t done all that well in Japan primarily because he has failed to settle in.

In terms of international football, Forlan has recently announced his retirement in March 2015 after a dreary 2014 World Cup.

While Forlan did well for Manchester United, scoring key goals at key junctures, his greatest performances have come for Atletico Madrid and Villareal.

The best asset of Forlan is his finishing. He’s known for scoring some cracking scores and doesn’t miss often. The combination of Kaka and Forlan are, in primal terms, mouth-watering.

Forlan list of achievements is neither as long as Kaka’s nor as illustrious but it’s not nothing either. Have a looksy.

  • Premier League with Manchester United (2002-2003)
  • FA Cup with Manchester United (2003-2004)
  • UEFA Europa League with Atletico Madrid (2009-2010)
  • Copa America with Uruguay (2011)
  • European Golden Show (2004-2005 and 2008-2009)
  • 2010 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball

He can definitely shine in the Indian Super League 2015 season.

Why Ateltico De Kolkata Needed To Shuffle Things Up

During the ISL 2014 season, many fans including I, castigated Atletico De Kolkata for being too much of a grafting team. The reason for this was also very obvious.

Last year’s team from Kolkata was well drilled and disciplined. What they didn’t have was flair. Granted, they went about marketing their ‘Captain Fantastico’ but he was decidedly ineffective.

Fikru, Atletico de KolkataThey only managed to become the ISL 2014 champions because of the way their coach drilled them. Moreover, another thing I didn’t like about that team was that it was too physical.

No team from Kolkata should play like Stoke City. They should be classy, artistic, and technically sound. Kolkata is the footballing capital of India. It deserves this much. This is why ATK needed to mix things up a bit in the Atletico De Kolkata 2015 squad.

So, Ganguly and Habas have heard everyone’s plea. Bringing in Kaka and Forlan to Atletico De Kolkata 2015 squad is a great step in that direction.

Habas the Henchman to Continue Terrorising Opponents

Atletico De Kolkata 2015 squad will continue to be led by Habas the Henchman. After digesting what happened in ISL 2014 season, I have come to the opinion that ATK won because of Habas.

Antonion Lopez Habas ATK

Habas the Henchman

They won because of the way their team was set up. They didn’t win through individual brilliance or great attacking football. They won because Habas saw what his team was capable of and what it wasn’t.

He chose to set up his team in a way that their strengths were highlighted and weaknesses suppressed. What is worst is that he never got the recognition for it either.

I believe you ATK fans need to thank your stars that Habas is such a great tactician. Ganguly has realised this fact and revealed that Habas the Henchman will continue to lead the ATK Posse for the foreseeable future.

I can only imagine what Habas can do with Atletico De Kolkata 2015 squad especially since he’s getting to make it the way he wants it. I want to see how he melds Kaka and Forlan into the Dynamic Duo. For this reason alone, I want these deals to happen!

Arsenal will play Mumbai City FC & FC Goa next year

Arsenal in ISL

The most ardent football followers amongst you will know it already but I’m not writing this for the most ardent followers. I am writing this for those who follow out of interest and not as an obsession. Although those of you who are obsessive about football wouldn’t really mind reading another article that connects Indian football with one of the best clubs in the world – Arsenal FC.

Arsenal are expected to land in India in the coming summer to play against the ISL semi finalist FC Goa and Mumbai City FC. For general football fans, this would not be a big surprise because clubs in the English Premier League are known to go abroad to combine their preseason preparations and marketing drives.

Arsenal Waking up to India’s Marketing Potential

Arsenal Indonesia Trip

Arsenal Indonesia Trip

The general understanding is that playing in a foreign country against a local team helps build up the club’s fan base in the foreign country.

While this marketing strategy makes complete sense for most clubs, it’s a recently adopted strategy for Arsenal.

Arsene Wenger, before the 2013 season was known to be firmly against making his team travel to distant lands, no matter how magical, during the preseason.

Arsenal US Trip

Arsenal US Trip

His logic was simple in that he believed that travelling so much kept his team from training and building up their fitness levels. He felt that such marketing campaigns take away from the footballing aspect.

As much as I railed against him in my head for seeing the truth, I did understand where he was coming from.

However, the big point is that the club’s management was able to convince Wenger that marketing is a much more integral part of football these days. So, after travelling to Indonesia, Vietnam, and Japan in 2013 along with the United States of America in 2014, Wenger will bring his technicians to India!

There’s logic to what Arsenal are doing and for once they seem to be ahead of the marketing curve when compared to other EPL clubs. While most other clubs are only waking up to the marketing juggernaut that India can be, Arsenal have already booked their tickets.

Indian Super League’s Special Arsenal Connection

Arsenal in ISL

Arsenal in ISL

Besides, the logic also extends to the fact that the Indian Super League saw a surprising number of ex arsenal players, albeit in the twilight of their careers. There were no less than six ex Arsenal players in the league. These include Mikael Silvestre, Robert Pires, Nicolas Anelka, Jermaine Pennant, Fredrik Ljungberg, and Andre Santos.

There was even talk of Thierry Henry considering the Indian Super League as a possible destination before he shattered all our dreams and decided to retire. The good bit, though, is that he chose to become a pundit which should improve the overall IQ in British media.

Arsenal will play FC Goa and Mumbai City FC, both clubs had two ex-Gunners in the form of Pires and Santos and Ljungberg and Anelka respectively. Pires and Ljungberg are even Invincibles! So, you get what I mean that it makes sense for Arsenal to not only come to India but also play FC Goa and Mumbai City FC?

ISL Marquee Players & Coaches Lining Up!

Emile Heskey

Its official folks. The Indian Super League is successful because the whole world has started lining up. The most recent names to be connected to the great ISL in the string of other ISL Marquee Players and Coaches include Emile Heskey and Peter “you shall not pass” Schmeichel!

Emile Heskey Could’ve Been One of the ISL Marquee Players

Emile Heskey

Emile Heskey

Emile Heskey is one of the first few to jump onto the ISL bandwagon, claiming that he was asked by one of the teams in the league to come and play. Just in case you don’t know who Emile Heskey is, he was a stalwart of the English Premier League in a bygone era.

Heskey was the traditional English striker who lacked pace but not physicality. He was also considered by many to be a highly intelligent striker. In his time in England,

Heskey chalked up more than 500 appearances in the EPL with more than 300 coming for Liverpool and Leicester City. Heskey was also an England international off and on and has 62 caps and 7 goals to his name.

While Heskey admitted that he chose to stay in England when he was asked earlier, he seems to be regretting the decision because he says that he might consider coming to India in another 1 or 2 years.

I’ve always liked Heskey because he seemed like a decent enough player free from all the other trappings of football fame but I doubt he’ll be able to contribute much if he comes to India when he is 38. That’s a bit too much if you ask me. Besides, I don’t think he has the kind of pull to be an ISL Marquee player.

Peter Schmeichel as a Head Coach?

Peter Schmeichel

Peter Schmeichel

The second name to be connected to the ISL this week is Peter Schmeichel. Schmeichel has claimed that he was approached by one of the ISL teams for the role of manager or head coach.

Schmeichel explained his absence by saying that he had to pull out of the deal because the ISL kept getting postponed. I believe this is Schmeichel’s subtle way of saying, ‘I am ready, please give me that chance again’.

I honestly don’t know if he has managerial experience but if I was to guess I would say no. I do know that since retiring Schmeichel has become a pundit of sorts in the English media.

Schmeichel is a legend goalkeeper whose most appearances came for Manchester United in the 90s. He was known for his lightning reflexes and exceptional decision making. Schmeichel played nearly 300 games for Manchester United and earned the moniker ‘the Great Dane’ through his performances.

He also appeared for the national team of Denmark 129 times. I guess you can equate his reputation to our own cricketing legend Rahul ‘the wall’ Dravid. Schmeichel’s arrival, if it ever happens, would mean the addition of another big name to the ISL, even if this one will be in the managerial role.

I do like the way the ISL is making waves all over the world. That too within its first season! I am kicked to see what happens to football in country. I can’t wait to take a walk through the neighbourhood and see each park filled with little footballers. After all, won’t it be fun to see D Block United go up against Sporting de E Block?