Hero ISL 2020-21: Key matches to watch out for in November

The upcoming campaign of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) will see 11 top teams battle it out for the coveted trophy as well as the League Winners Shield. After ATK Mohun Bagan FC kickstart proceedings against Kerala Blasters FC on November 20, the next 10 days offer plenty of mouth-watering contests to look forward to. While all the matches have the making of exciting encounters, let’s have a look at some of the fixtures that standout from the month of November.

Mumbai City FC vs FC Goa (November 25)

FC Goa are the highest goal-scorers in the Hero ISL since the league’s inception in 2014 with 205 goals across six seasons. As many as 33 of those goals have come against their west coast rivals Mumbai City FC. With a tough schedule lined up in February when the Gaurs play in the AFC Champions League, Juan Ferrando’s new-look Goa will hope for a bright start to their season against Mumbai in their bid for the club’s maiden Hero ISL crown.

However, all eyes will be on the Islanders with the Gaurs’ former head coach Sergio Lobera now in-charge of Mumbai City. The Spaniard brought four members of Goa’s Hero ISL League Winners Shield team with him to Mumbai, in Mandar Rao Dessai, Hugo Boumous, Mourtada Fall and Ahmed Jahouh. Having failed to win the Hero ISL trophy in his three seasons with the Gaurs, Lobera with his new-look Mumbai side will target going all the way this season. He will want to start the campaign positively with Mumbai when they go up against Goa in a fixture that witnessed 13 goals being scored in two matches last season.

SC East Bengal vs ATK Mohun Bagan FC (November 27)

A week into Hero ISL 2020-21 and fans will get to witness Indian football’s oldest and most fierce derby when two of India’s most prestigious clubs face off in Hero ISL’s first-ever Kolkata derby. Colloquially known as ‘Boro match’ or big match, when ATK Mohun Bagan take on SC East Bengal, the entire city comes to a standstill and make their allegiances known. The century-old rivalry has a storied history and promises to be better than ever as Indian football’s grandest stage prepares for a high-octane and emotionally charged spectacle where both points and pride will be at stake.

Heroes are born in this fixture with both sets of fans unlikely to ever forget the match-winners from the game. Some of the players from the two teams already have the experience of playing in this fixture and will certainly let their teammates know what to expect. The likes of Jobby Justin, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Pronay Halder, Balwant Singh and Pritam Kotal have played for the Kolkata Giants in the past and will relish taking center stage in Indian football’s most watched game.

Chennaiyin FC vs Kerala Blasters FC (November 29)

Southern rivals Chennaiyin FC and Kerala Blasters FC have been involved in some exhilarating clashes over the years and their first meeting in Hero ISL 2020-21 promises to be no different. Chennaiyin ended Kerala’s chances of a top-four finish when the two faced off last season in a nine-goal thriller. The Marina Machans were in the middle of an incredible run which culminated in a loss to ATK FC in the 2019-20 Hero ISL final. Prior to the game, the Chennai-based club had only scored three goals in six matches in Kochi, winning just once.

However, both teams come into Hero ISL 2020-21 with fresh faces among their coaching staff as well as the players. Facing off in round two of the upcoming season, both clubs will be looking to finish the month on a high and strengthen their top four credentials. With six wins in 14 games, Chennaiyin FC have the upper hand on paper, but the two-time champions will know better than to write off Kerala, who will be hoping to finish in the top four for the first time since 2016.

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