Majority of the domestic players have arrived in Goa for the upcoming Indian Super League, which is likely to start next month and to be played entirely in three venues under strict COVID-19 protocols.
This season’s ISL, to be played among 11 teams, will be held behind closed doors at three venues — Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Margao; GMC Athletic Stadium, Bambolim; and Tilak Maidan Stadium, Vasco.
Some clubs like FC Goa, Hyderabad FC and Kerala Blasters FC have begun their pre-season training at their designated venues, while Bengaluru FC started their preparations in the beginning of this month at their academy at Bellary.
The rest of the clubs are expected to start their training by the end of this week once they complete their stipulated days of quarantine, the ISL said in a statement.
Chennaiyin FC and their coaching staff are yet to announce the date of their arrival while new side SC East Bengal’s squad is expected to reach Goa by October 16.
While a majority of the Indian players have already linked up with their teammates and the coaching staff of their respective clubs, many foreign players are yet to arrive, with visa restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic proving to be a hurdle.
Among foreign arrivals, Peter Hartley and Nerijus Valskis of Jamshedpur FC landed on Indian shores on Friday. NorthEast United’s Uruguayan attacker Federico Gallego has also arrived in Goa, as also Hyderabad FC’s new signing Aridane Santana.
Among the first Hero ISL outfits to arrive in Goa were ATK Mohun Bagan FC and Jamshedpur FC.
Antonio Lopez Habas of ATK Mohun Bagan was the first ISL head coach to arrive in Goa, followed by Jamshedpur FC’s Owen Coyle and NorthEast United FC’s Gerard Nus. Kerala Blasters FC’s Kibu Vicuna arrived on Saturday while Hyderabad FC head coach Manuel Marquez has also arrived in Goa.
Other Spanish head coaches, including Mumbai City FC’s Sergio Lobera and FC Goa’s Juan Ferrando, are set to arrive on Monday and link up with the team after completing quarantine.
Odisha FC head coach Stuart Baxter will arrive in India after the approval of his visa.