For the first time in the history of the competition, all ISL teams will compete in the oldest tournament in Asia, the Durand Cup. The tournament will also see five I-League teams and the Indian Armed Forces participating. It provides a unique opportunity for teams to win silverware which will help them gain momentum into the season.
“It’s perfect having more games in India. It has been a long time coming, regardless of if it’s cup competitions, pre-season tournaments, or post-season tournaments,” Erik Paartalu said about ISL teams taking part in the Durand Cup. “It doesn’t matter. As long as you can increase the number of games from 20 to 30. You need at least 30 competitive games and the calendar also has to be increased in terms of the number of months. It’s no good going from October to March and trying to put 30 games in that window. The players will get injured. So to extend it from August to May and align a lot of the other competitions is great news.”
“A longer season is always ideal for players and clubs because you have a proper off-season break. You don’t have an off-season for five or six months because then you get out of shape and it’s not easy for professional players to stay out of their profession for six months. So, with a longer season, the off-season break becomes smaller,” Ishfaq Ahmed said. “So the decision of having a longer season and having more tournaments will only benefit players in terms of fitness and maturity. Ultimately, it’s football matches that can help you to progress more quickly than off-seasons. I feel the Indian team needs competitive games so that when they get to the qualifiers they can actually compete. They are competing against teams and countries that are in-season and players who are playing 30-40 games a season.”