ISL diary: Soosairaj-Edwin's long association, Sahal's wait, Farukh's Vrikshasana

In our latest Indian Super League (ISL 2019-20) diary, we explore Soosairaj and Edwin's long association, reason behind Sahal's reduced game-time and more.

Michael Soosairaj (left) and Edwin Sydney Vanspaul before the start of the match between Chennaiyin FC and ATK at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on October 30.   -  ISL / SPORTZPICS

The association between Edwin Sydney Vanspaul and Michael Soosairaj goes back a long way. Long before their recent face-off in the Indian Super League (ISL) and even before their great escape act as they together pulled Chennai City FC out of relegation in the I-League, the pair first met in the Tamil Nadu township of Neyveli in 2007. The Thoothoor-born Soosairaj trained under Edwin’s coach while playing for the junior national team.

After Nevyeli, their paths crossed again in Chennai as rivals playing for their college teams. “He was with Madras Christian College and I was with Loyola. One could say we started as enemies,” Edwin chuckles while reminiscing about their friendship. They played together for the first time for the Madras University team and then for the Tamil Nadu team in the Santosh Trophy before they were signed up by Chennai City in the I-League in 2016. They have remained friends since.

Soosairaj was the first of the two to earn a big-money move to the ISL in 2018, which meant he wasn’t a part of Chennai City’s remarkable I-League championship success a season later. But the winger didn’t want to miss out on watching his friend’s crowning moment. On the final day of the league in Coimbatore, Soosairaj turned up in Chennai City colours to cheer his mates. In May, Edwin got his transfer to the ISL with Chennaiyin FC, and on game week three, the former teammates traded blows yet again on the flanks for opposing sides when Soosairaj returned to Chennai with ATK.

‘Takes time to fit Sahal into my system’

Sahal Abdul Samad was named the ISL Emerging Player Award last season and soon found himself in the Indian senior team.   -  AP


With an impressive show, he walked away with the ISL Emerging Player Award last season. Sahal Abdul Samad soon found himself in the Indian senior team and when the young midfielder was not included in the Kerala Blasters’ starting line-up in the first two ISL games this season, many started criticising head coach Eelco Schattorie.

“I am very, very happy to have this player in my team. Sahal comes from a football school in Dubai. He has amazing creativity. But to fit a guy like that into a system takes time,” said Schattorie.

“The last game Sahal made a mistake... We didn’t lose the game because of him, but these small things... they matter. I discussed this also with Sahal himself, so it’s not like I’m criticizing a player. I don’t find anything negative about it because that is football. You can’t just put a player who has amazing qualities on the ball and think that everything will be fine, that's not how it works. I'm very happy to have him in my team and people questioning that, they are not supporters.”

Score goal, strike Vrikshasana

"The celebration was dedicated to our yoga routines,” said Jamshedpur FC forward Farukh Choudhary, who scored the goal.   -  Special Arrangement

Post-goal celebrations always seem to pack a message as the scorer and his teammates try to communicate with the fans to make their emotional outpourings meaningful. Jamshedpur FC players used the Vrikshasana, or tree pose, as their celebration after the first goal against Hyderabad FC at home at the JRD Tata Sports Complex. This yoga posture helps in calming the mind and improving concentration. The team tried to convey the benefits of this asana to some 23,000 fans packing the stadium.

“We have been having a lot of benefits of yoga and we are thankful to the head coach (Antonio Iriondo) for getting yoga into our training schedule. The celebration was dedicated to our yoga routines,” said JFC forward Farukh Choudhary, who scored the goal.

“It calms us down and is also helping us with our fitness. This is the first time I am doing yoga so regularly and, to be honest, it is real fun. We want to be champions and we will want to give our best to achieve that,” said captain Tiri. “I am glad that the players are finding yoga beneficial to their fitness. The name of this asana is Vrikshasana. It increases concentration level. I hope they will remain concentrated to win the ISL final,” said Anshu Sarkar, Jamshedpur FC’s yoga guru.