December 6, 2021

Jo Paul Ancheri: We have been waiting for a Kolkata derby in ISL

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Jo Paul Ancheri is also hoping for an all-Indian I-League…

Former Indian national team star Jo Paul Ancheri is overjoyed by the entry of East Bengal into the Indian Super League (ISL) and feels that it was a necessary step. 

The retired Kerala-born midfielder, who has played for both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan during his glittering professional career, believes the Kolkata giants should play in the same league and is glad that the legacy of Kolkata derby is set to continue. 

​”Just when we thought that there won’t be any more Kolkata derbies (at the national level), we are getting to see more and it’s very good,” Jo Paul Ancheri told Goal

He remarked, “We have been waiting for this to happen for years, we will now be able to see a lot more games between these two teams. We did not expect East Bengal’s entry to happen so quickly this season​.”

East Bengal and Mohun Bagan had support from investors Shree Cement and the RPSG Group (ATK) respectively in their bid to get into the ISL. The former Mohun Bagan SAIL academy coach believes that getting into the ISL is the most important thing and the process they undertook in order to achieve their objective does not matter. 

“East Bengal got their own sponsors, Bagan joined with ATK but playing ISL is the most valuable thing. It is a big chance for both teams. There is no Kolkata football without East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. These two teams have kept Kolkata football alive for years.”

With two big teams leaving the I-League, the former Indian football top division is set to become a new battleground, one that should be used to develop Indian footballers, according to Ancheri.

Then again, it must be noted that the I-League winners also get a spot in the AFC Cup for the next two years. 

“The ISL winner gets ACL spot. I-League remains a big platform for Indian players. I-League teams should look at using Indian footballers more instead of foreigners. Only then we will get players for India. That is an important decision to make and it will help the future of the Indian national team because as of now, Indian players are not getting chances. That is a drawback right now in Indian football.”