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Revised schedule sees multiple teams vying for ISL top spot

Source: PTI
February 02, 2022 20:32 IST
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ATK Mohun Bagan will face Jamshedpur FC in the final match of the regular season at the PJN Stadium in Margao on March 7, according to the revised fixture drawn by the league organisers Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL).

IMAGE: ATK Mohun Bagan will face Jamshedpur FC in the final match of the regular season at the PJN Stadium in Margao on March 7, according to the revised fixture drawn by the league organisers Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL). Photograph: ISL/Twitter

The Indian Super League on Wednesday unveiled the revised fixture list for the ongoing event with the organisers incorporating all the matches that were postponed due to COVID-19 outbreaks last month in the schedule that begins February 9.

 

ATK Mohun Bagan will face Jamshedpur FC in the final match of the regular season at the PJN Stadium in Margao on March 7, according to the revised fixture drawn by the league organisers Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL).

"Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) today released the revised fixture list for 25 matches, from February 9 onwards, for the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season. The League has incorporated the matches that were postponed in January into the redrawn calendar," the ISL said in a statement.

There will be three additional double-headers, all on Saturdays (February 19, February 26, and March 5) to accommodate the six games that were suspended.

The matches were earlier suspended due to multiple COVID-19 cases in the teams with the worst hit being Kerala Blasters, ATK Mohun Bagan and Jamshedpur FC.

In the final five weeks of the league season, multiple teams will be fighting for the top spot and for the reward of representing India in the 2023 AFC Champions League.

The eighth season (2021-22) of the ISL kicked off on November 19 with ATK Mohun Bagan taking on Kerala Blasters.

The matches postponed due to the COVID outbreak were Jamshedpur FC vs Mumbai City FC, ATK Mohun Bagan vs Odisha FC, Kerala Blasters FC vs ATK Mohun Bagan, Hyderabad FC vs Jamshedpur FC, Kerala Blasters vs Mumbai City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan vs Bengaluru FC.

Some of the affected sides were struggling to even field a playing XI for their matches.

I-League set to resume in early March

All India Football Federation's (AIFF) Leagues CEO Sunando Dhar on Wednesday assured that it is "safe to resume" the I-League in the first week of March, two months after it was suspended due to a COVID-19 outbreak inside its bio-bubble in Kolkata.

The AIFF on Tuesday said that the country's second tier league will resume on March 3, and the bio-security bubbles will be functional from February 20.

"I think it would be very safe for us to resume the league. We are good to go," Dhar said.

The league was put on hold amid a surge in COVID cases driven by the Omicron variant but the country's positivity rate has since come down.

"See, omicron has been different from other variants of COVID and what we saw is that it spreads very fast but the good thing was that you recover fast too, within about five or seven days.

"The records show that Omicron is not as deadly or adversely affects the body as the other other variants.

In hindsight, Dhar believes the AIFF's decision to suspend the league in the first week of January was a correct one.

"There was high chances of the disease spreading in the hotel with multiple teams staying in the same hotel. So, after consulting Dr Harsh Mahajan from our medical committee I think we took the right decision of stopping the league and sending the players home where they could isolate, recover and then come back.

"Dr Mahajan had predicted that the numbers would drastically fall after six weeks and that is what we are seeing, and by the time we come back in February and the matches begin in the first week of March, there would be further reduction in the number and the positivity rate."

He said everyone has recovered from their COVID infections.

On January 3, the I-League was suspended by the AIFF after a COVID-19 outbreak hit the participating teams inside the bio-bubble in Kolkata.

It was learnt at that time that a total of 45 COVID-19 cases had hit the league which prompted the AIFF to suspend the league for at least six weeks. All the players and officials had left the bio-bubble after that.

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