ISL 2023-24 key fixtures, February 2024: Clash of heavyweights, the Kolkata derby, and more
February promises to be an engaging month for Indian football fans, with 29 ISL fixtures on the horizon, showcasing numerous high-voltage showdowns.
February 2024 is poised to bring the Indian Super League (ISL) back to its peak intensity after a month-long hiatus. While Indian players from ISL clubs showcased their talent at the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023, ISL clubs engaged in a fierce battle during the Kalinga Super Cup in January.
As the Kalinga Super Cup final approaches on Sunday, teams are preparing to shift their focus back to the league, resuming with Jamshedpur FC's clash against NorthEast United FC on Wednesday.
In the second half of the season, frontrunners at the top half of the league table are eager to solidify their positions, while the chasing pack aims to pick up speed and narrow the gap.
An action-packed month lies ahead with 29 fixtures to entertain Indian football fans, including high-voltage games.
Here are some key fixtures to watch out for in February 2024.
Hyderabad FC vs FC Goa (February 1, Thursday, Hyderabad)
In a stylish kickoff to February, FC Goa, currently occupying the second spot, is set to travel to face bottom-placed Hyderabad FC. This clash presents a stark contrast, with FC Goa maintaining an undefeated record in ISL 2023-24, while Hyderabad FC is yet to secure a victory.
Beyond the evident gap between the two teams, what adds intrigue to this fixture is the return of FC Goa head coach Manolo Marquez to his former coaching ground. The Spaniard, having enjoyed three successful years in the South, joined the Gaurs in 2023. During his tenure with Hyderabad FC, Marquez steered the team to two consecutive second-placed finishes and guided them to their first ISL Cup triumph in the 2021-22 season.
Since Marquez's departure, Hyderabad FC has experienced a significant downturn, while FC Goa has emerged as a formidable force under his guidance. The spotlight will be on how Marquez navigates his return to the Gachibowli Stadium, a place where he remains adored by the passionate Hyderabad FC fanbase.
Odisha FC vs Kerala Blasters FC (February 2, Friday, Bhubaneswar)
In the clash of the heavyweights, third-placed Odisha FC will challenge table toppers Kerala Blasters FC for the spot atop the table in the Kalinga Stadium.
Both teams, having secured 24 points from 12 matches, vie for the coveted top spot. The outcome of this fixture will provide the winner with an advantage over the other, with the possibility of claiming the summit of the table, contingent on FC Goa's results.
Odisha FC, known as the Kalinga Warriors, has maintained an impressive record, with their last defeat dating back to October 27 across all competitions. On the other hand, Kerala Blasters FC resumes their ISL campaign following a 4-1 loss against NorthEast United FC in the final group game of the Kalinga Super Cup. The clash between these formidable teams promises to be a pivotal moment in the race for the top position.
Mohun Bagan SG vs East Bengal FC (February 3, Saturday, Kolkata)
The Kolkata derby, a pinnacle of Indian football rivalry, is set to unfold as East Bengal FC and Mohun Bagan SG face each other for the fourth time this season.
Their initial encounters took place twice in the Durand Cup 2023, resulting in one victory for each team. However, their latest clash during the Kalinga Super Cup distinctly favored the Red and Gold Brigade.
With both teams eyeing a secure spot in the ISL playoffs, the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan anticipates a thrilling and highly anticipated fixture on February 3rd. The stage is set for an intense battle between these arch-rivals in one of Indian football's most prestigious matchups.
Bengaluru FC vs Chennaiyin FC (February 7, Wednesday, Bengaluru)
In the backdrop of a mixed performance in the ISL 2023-24 season for both teams, this encounter between two sides becomes crucial, with each side aiming for a much-needed victory.
As of now, Chennaiyin FC occupies the seventh position on the table with 12 points from 12 games, holding a slim one-point advantage over Bengaluru FC, positioned ninth.
Both the Marina Machans and the Blues share a common aspiration to enhance their defensive capabilities, having conceded the highest number of goals in the league this season — 22 for Chennaiyin FC and 19 for Bengaluru FC. The upcoming clash is anticipated to be a fiercely contested battle as both teams strive to address their defensive vulnerabilities and secure vital points in the league standings.
Odisha FC vs FC Goa (February 9, Friday, Bhubaneswar)
Adding to the excitement in February is a fixture with the potential to reshape the top half of the table - the clash between Odisha FC and FC Goa. With both teams currently delivering standout performances, this match is poised to offer a thrilling experience for fans and neutrals alike.
In their recent encounter during the group stages of the Kalinga Super Cup, the Kalinga Warriors outplayed the Gaurs, securing a 3-2 victory and advancing to the semi-final. However, FC Goa has also tasted success against Odisha FC earlier in the ISL season, staging a comeback to secure a victory.
As both sides seek to settle the scores, the intensity of the competition is set to escalate in this crucial fixture amidst the playoff race. Football enthusiasts can anticipate a riveting match as these two formidable teams compete for supremacy on the field.
FC Goa vs Mohun Bagan SG (February 14, Wednesday, Goa)
In Matchweek 15, FC Goa is set to host the Mariners in a highly anticipated encounter at the Fatorda Stadium.
Mohun Bagan SG enters this fixture with a determination to avenge the previous encounter in December 2023 when FC Goa dominated them at home. In that contest, a stellar performance by Noah Sadaoui, complemented by goals from Victor Rodriguez and Carlos Martinez, led FC Goa to a resounding 4-1 victory. Dimitri Petratos managed to score the lone goal for Mohun Bagan SG through a brilliant free-kick.
Marquez's side will be determined to replicate a similar commanding performance, this time backed by the support of their passionate home fans.
Chennaiyin FC vs Kerala Blasters FC (February 16, Friday, Chennai)
In another classic Southern showdown, Chennaiyin FC will host Kerala Blasters FC, both sides aiming to rekindle their prospects for the ISL 2023-24 playoffs.
This encounter adds another chapter to the longstanding rivalry between the two teams, tracing its roots back to 2014 since the inception of the ISL. Notably, both teams clinched playoff berths in the league's inaugural season, setting the stage for a rivalry that has consistently delivered thrilling battles whenever they have crossed paths. As they face off once again, fans can anticipate another enthralling chapter in the enduring rivalry between Chennaiyin FC and Kerala Blasters FC.
Odisha FC vs Mohun Bagan SG (February 24, Saturday, Bhubaneswar)
Following their previous ISL encounter, which concluded in a 2-2 draw, both Odisha FC and Mohun Bagan SG will be desperate to outdo each other in an eagerly anticipated fixture.
Currently positioned in the top half of the table, this clash holds immense significance for both teams. The outcome of this fixture will play a crucial role in determining the final standings as Odisha FC and Mohun Bagan SG vie for a favorable position to conclude their league season. Fans can expect an intense showdown as both teams strive to secure a decisive victory in this highly consequential matchup.
Kerala Blasters FC vs FC Goa (February 25, Sunday, Kochi)
In the final stages of February, Kerala Blasters FC is set to welcome FC Goa to their fortress, the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. This clash carries immense importance not only for these prominent teams but also for others placed around them, who will closely monitor the outcome.
As the two teams fiercely compete for the top spot on the table in the first half of the season, the significance of this fixture cannot be overstated. A defeat for either side could have substantial implications for their season, elevating the encounter to a do-or-die battle. With the stakes high, supporters of both teams will anticipate a thrilling and decisive showdown.
Mumbai City FC vs FC Goa (February 28, Wednesday, Mumbai)
Both Mumbai City FC and FC Goa commenced the ISL 2023-24 season in stellar form, establishing themselves as consistent contenders in the league. Currently, just two points separate second-placed FC Goa from fourth-placed Mumbai City FC.
FC Goa, impressively, remains undefeated in the first half of the season, showcasing their formidable performance. On the contrary, Mumbai City FC experienced a setback as their unbeaten streak was halted by a defeat to Kerala Blasters FC at Kochi in December, marking their second-last fixture before the international break.
In their previous encounter in December, the two teams engaged in a closely-contested battle that culminated in a goalless draw. However, as they prepare for their upcoming meeting, one can expect an even more compelling showdown between these two powerhouse teams, promising an intense clash filled with unpredictable twists and turns.