Pune: Hero Indian Super League, the globally-recognized Indian football league kicks off with a mouth- watering clash between arch rivals and Season 3 champions ATK and runners-up Kerala Blasters FC at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (Salt Lake Stadium) in Kolkata on November 17, 2017.
The clash between two-time champions ATK and Kerala Blasters FC in the opener will also bring the seasoned rivalry between Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov from Europe to Indian soil.
Hero ISL 2017-18 will see 10 teams in action this season, with the addition of Bengaluru FC and Jamshedpur FC, which will result in a prolonged season lasting four months for the first time.
Football Sports Development Ltd., a joint venture between IMG, Reliance Industries and Star India, announced the match schedule of the power-packed ISL season 4 today featuring 95 matches.
All 10 teams play each other in a home-and-away format in 90 games before the two-legged semi-finals which are scheduled to take place in the second week of March. Date and venue for the Final of the 2017-18 season will be announced later. All league matches to be played from Wednesday to Saturday will kick off at 8 PM (IST) with Sunday featuring double headers at 5:30 PM and 8 PM (IST).
The season’s first double-header will see a repeat of the 2016 Final between Chennaiyin FC and FC Goa in Chennai followed by AFC Cup 2016 finalist, Bengaluru FC, getting their first taste of Hero ISL when they take on last season’s semi-finalists Mumbai City FC in a home match at Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday, 19th November. The highlight of the day will undoubtedly be India captain, Sunil Chhetri taking on his previous club for the first time.
The season’s first Maharashtra derby between FC Pune City and Mumbai City FC will be played on November 29, 2017 at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium, Pune.
Jamshedpur FC will play their first home match at the renovated JRD Tata Sports Complex Stadium against title holders ATK on December 1.
The 10 clubs have collectively spent Rs 132.75 crores in signing 77 international and 166 domestic players. Unlike previous seasons, the maximum number of foreign players in the playing XI has been reduced from six to five from this season onwards. This has prompted clubs to invest heavily on home-grown talents with long-term goals in mind resulting in over 32 Indian players getting multi-year contracts starting this year.