Teams divided over three breaks in ISL season

Coaches from various Indian Super League teams have given mixed reactions to the three mid-season breaks the upcoming ISL season will have.

(L to R) FC Goa assistant coach Jesus Toto, Mumbai City FC coach Jorge Costa, FC Pune City coach Miguel Portuga and Delhi Dynamos coach Josep Gombau at the ISL media interaction day in Mumbai on Monday.   -  PRASHANT NAKWE

The Indian Super League (ISL) is all about intense footballing action over a few months. But this time around, the league will witness three mid-season breaks in order to accommodate the Indian national team's preparation for the AFC Asian Cup to be held in January next year.

The fifth edition of the ISL gets underway on September 29 and the first break will be from October 8-16, when the national team travels to China for a friendly. The league restarts on October 17 and the second break is from November 12-20 and India is likely to play Syria or Saudi Arabia in this period.

The third break begins on December 17 and after a national camp the Indian team will head to UAE to compete in the AFC Asian Cup, which begins on January 5.

These breaks in between have left the teams divided. While the majority believes that the ‘break’ could affect the rhythm of the team, some see it as a positive.

Mumbai City FC coach, Jorge Costa, believes that the breaks will give the teams more time to prepare. “The first break is good because we did not have enough time to work (before the start of the league). We worked for one month and played two games. The break will help us to improve,” Costa, who took charge as the coach of the Mumbai outfit this season, told Sportstar.

“Then we will have a break in November, which I think is normal and then the third break in December is also good. We can go home to spend Christmas. The players will get time to rest. For me these breaks are normal, I am used to it because of the international competitions,” he added.

Though he admitted that such breaks could ‘at times’ affect the rhythm of the side, Costa made it clear that the teams will not stop working during the breaks. “The breaks can disturb the rhythm, but we will not stop work during the breaks (in October and November). This league is so tight that it’s important to have breaks in December-January. The players can get tired mentally, more than physically,” the Spaniard said.

FC Goa’s assistant coach, Jesus Tato, however, backed the decision. “The ISL cannot be played during FIFA and international matches. We have two breaks and then a big break. The breaks are mandatory because of national team matches. We cannot change these things, it’s not a problem,” he said.

'Three breaks are too much'

Delhi Dynamos coach, Josep Gombau, thinks otherwise. “It is difficult. We play and then for 15 days, there is no game. After that, we play five games in 13 days. This means, you have a game in every two and a half days. It is very difficult to deal with it,” Delhi's new coach pointed out.

Miguel Angel Portugal - who took over the coaching role at FC Pune City - stated that that three breaks are too much. “One break is good, but three is too much. In Europe, there is only one break. Three breaks have to be examined for the future; it would be very difficult for the coach and players to re-enter the tournament (league),” he said.