Hero ISL 2022-23: What to look forward to in Matchweek 3?
The Hero Indian Super League (ISL) will have a weekend-centric schedule in the 2022-23 season and after the early burst of matches, the league will now be held mainly on and around the weekends.
Matchweeks 1 and 2 gave the Hero ISL an explosive start with plenty of goals, dramatic comebacks, some stunning individual performances, and most importantly the return of fans in the stadium.
The league table is as congested as it gets with just one team - FC Goa - having a perfect record in the league so far and they too have played just one game.
NorthEast United FC and East Bengal FC will kick off Matchweek 3 as they bid to get their first points on the board. Chennaiyin FC will host FC Goa in the second game before the Saturday doubleheader featuring Mumbai City FC’s home clash against Jamshedpur FC followed by Hyderabad FC’s match against Bengaluru FC.
The Matchweek will end with Odisha FC hosting Kerala Blasters FC on Sunday.
As Matchweek 3 approaches, here’s a look at the key narratives to keep an eye out for:
Familiar faces in unfamiliar colours
Matchweek 3 will see many players face their former teams for the first time since moving away from their previous clubs. The biggest such name is Greg Stewart who will come up against Jamshedpur FC when they travel to face his new team Mumbai City FC. Stewart helped the Red Miners win the League Winners’ Shield last season and was rewarded with the Hero of the League prize for his efforts. But he moved to Mumbai City FC in the summer and his presence will give that game an extra edge.
Suhair VP will also face his former employers when East Bengal FC travel to Guwahati to face NorthEast United FC. The forward hopes to make a mark on his return to Guwahati. That game will also see Arindam Bhattacharja face his former team East Bengal FC having played for the Kolkata team last season.
The battle of the dark horses
Chennaiyin FC and FC Goa have seen massive overhauls in the summer led by the arrival of two new head coaches. The Marina Machans and the Gaurs have since been busy in the transfer market reviving their squads and have a fresh look this season.
Chennaiyin FC and FC Goa have made bright starts to their campaigns both acquiring twin wins in Kolkata. Chennaiyin FC also went on to hold Bengaluru FC in their next match.
The two sides are now set to collide in Chennai as they bid to underline their respective credentials for the season ahead.
The game will also see a tasty tactical battle on the cards with Carlos Pena’s possession-based style being countered by Thomas Brdaric’s high-intensity pressing game. These two teams were earmarked as the dark horses ahead of the new season but these clubs have great pedigree in the Hero ISL and have know how to reach the latter stages of the league.
With a great history between these two teams, the Chennaiyin FC vs FC Goa clash is one to watch out for in Matchweek 3.
Hero ISL returns to Hyderabad and Bhubaneswar
The Hero ISL will finally make its return to Hyderabad and Bhubaneswar in MW3 as Hyderabad FC and Odisha FC will play their first home games respectively. As fairly new additions to the Hero ISL venues, these two cities have missed out on a vast majority of the action due to the pandemic in the last two years and the fans there will be eager to make their presence felt and watch their team in action.
There is renewed optimism around these places as Hyderabad FC return to their home ground as the champions of the land and already sitting at the top of the table. As for Odisha FC, there is renewed hope that the team under Josep Gombau is well-equipped to reach the knockout stages this time around.
Bartholomew Ogbeche vs Roy Krishna - the battle of the elite strikers
Defending Hero ISL Champions Hyderabad FC will face Durand Cup winners Bengaluru FC in Hyderabad in a mouthwatering clash in MW3. Apart from pitting two title contenders against one another, the match will witness many mini-battles across the field.
None bigger than the battle of the two strikers – Bartholomew Ogbeche and Roy Krishna. Ogbeche and Krishna are two of the greatest strikers to have played in the Hero ISL. The Nigerian is the all-time leading goalscorer in the league’s history with 54 goals while Krishna is fourth on the all-time list with 37 strikes to his name.
Both the strikers opened their accounts for the season with well-taken goals in their last match and are set for an epic battle in Hyderabad on Saturday. The final outcome of the game could very likely come down who outshines the other on the day.