The Indian top flight will be played behind closed doors in the state of Goa in the forthcoming season.
As the world still fights against the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, the authorities decided ISL 2020-21 season will be organized behind closed doors across three venues in the Indian state of Goa. conduct the 7th edition of the topmost football league in India exclusively within the confines of Goa.
The three stadiums, which will be hosting a number of teams for the duration of the league are – Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (Fatorda) in Madgaon, Tilak Maidan in Vasco and the GMC Athletic Stadium in Bambolim. All eleven teams participating in the seventh editionhave been allotted one of the three as their designated homeground. Let’s take a broader ook at the three arenas scheduled to host the Indian Super League.
3. Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Goa (Fatorda)
The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium is located in the Fatorda area of the city of Madgaon, Goa. It was built in 1989 as a football only stadium. It was later redeveloped to include cricket as well. The stadium is the largest stadium in Goa, in terms of capacity, able to withstand a crowd of 18000. Having been renovated comprehensively in 2013, it is also the only stadium in Goa with an international status.
For FC Goa, Fatorda Stadium has been nothing short of a fortress. The arena has been the home ground for the Gaurs since the inception of the league and has served as a memorable base for their imposing ISL runs. Aided by the nearly full stadium teeming with passionate fans, the Gaurs under Zico and later Lobera dismantled opposition teams with their intricate playing style at this battleground.
For the I-League fans, Fatorda was the go-to hub where all Goan teams played their home games. Dempo, Salgaocar, Churchil Brothers and Sporting Club had mainly plied their trade from this stadium, especially during their title winning campaigns.
Several amazing moments have happened within the four walls of this stadium. FC Goa’s seven-goals thrashing of Mumbai City FC, Dempo’s 14-goal belter against Air India and Salgaocar’s 2-0 victory against JCT that clinched them the 2010-11 I-League.
The stadium’s international status was highlighted when it was chosen as one of the venues for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup. It played host to a total of nine matches (six group stage games, two pre-quarterfinals and one quarterfinal match). The England Vs USA quarterfinal at the Fatorda featured the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi, Phil Foden and Rhian Brewster in the Three Lions squad and Timothy Weah in the American side. Added to that, this stadium also occasionally serves as the home ground for the Indian football team.
Along with FC Goa, Bengaluru FC and ATK Mohun Bagan have also been allotted the Fatorda as their home ground in the ISL 2020-21 season.
2. Tilak Maidan
Imposing. Intimidating. Cavernous. Located in the port town of Vasco, the infamous Tilak Maidan fits all the above-mentioned labels perfectly. The stadium’s extremely close quarters gives off claustrophobic vibes and any opposition player will feel a great deal of pressure due to the proximity of the fans. Unlike the Fatorda or the GMC Stadium, Tilak Maidan does not have much of a gap between the playing field and spectator stands. Couple that with the passionate Goan supporters, playing here is bound to be a torrid affair for opposition players.
This arena has served as a training ground for several teams. Recently, it served as hosts for the Indian Arrows in the 2019-20 I-League. Several Goa Pro League fixtures also take place here.
Hyderabad FC, Jamshedpur FC and NorthEast United have been allotted the Tilak Maidan as their home ground.
1. GMC Athletic Stadium
The GMC Athletic Stadium in Bambolim is quite well known to all FC Goa fans. This North Goa based stadium served as the Training ground for the Gaurs during their ISL campaigns.
The stadium was one of two grounds used for the AFC U-16 championship in 2016 along with Fatorda Stadium. The GMC Athletic Stadium was also used in the league phase of the 2016 BRICS U-17 World Cup. The arena at times also served as a practice venue for FC Goa with several pre-season friendlies being played here.
Visually, this stadium is the most spacious out of the three. The spectator stands are present only on one side with an athletic track circumscribing the playing area and separating it from the stands. This multipurpose stadium is located in the heart of the state and would be a spectacular setting for thrilling ISL ties.
The GMC Athletic Stadium will serve as the home ground for four ISL teams – Chennaiyin FC, Kerala Blasters, Mumbai City FC and Odisha FC during the ISL 2020-21 season.