ISL in 2023: Best Moments of the Year
As we step into 2024, let’s take a look at the best moments in the ISL from 2023.
The journey of the Indian Super League (ISL) in 2023 was nothing short of magical. The year unfolded with high-voltage fixtures and nail-biters, revealing a profoundly passionate side of the game.
While some teams saw themselves getting better throughout the year, others witnessed a dip in their form. With brilliant footwork, creativity, and dedication from the players and equally intriguing tactics from the coaches, 2023 witnessed records being broken and unforgettable moments being created.
As we step into the year, let’s take a look at the best moments in the ISL from 2023.
Dominating Mumbai City FC
Mumbai City FC began 2023 where they had finished in 2022 and continued their dominance over the other ISL teams. They wrapped up the 2022-23 season by winning their second league title in a span of three years. They secured the most points in a season since the inception of the ISL; the Islanders finished with 46 points from 20 matches, claiming 14 wins in the process and losing just twice.
With a record-breaking 18-match unbeaten run from the start of the season, the Islanders displayed brilliance that had never been seen before, raising the standard of the league to a whole new level. Their only losses came in the last two games when they had already secured the top spot in the league table.
Mohun Bagan Super Giant’s title triumph
Mohun Bagan Super Giant secured a spot in the ISL playoffs, finishing third on the league table. A decisive 2-0 victory against Odisha FC propelled them into the semi-finals, where the Mariners narrowly advanced past Hyderabad FC on penalties, following goalless draws in both legs.
In an exhilarating ISL 2022-23 final against Bengaluru FC, the match concluded with a 2-2 scoreline after regulation time. The Mariners clinched their first ISL Cup title in a thrilling penalty shootout, sealing their victory.
A comeback to remember
Bengaluru FC commenced the 2022-23 season impressively by clinching their first Durand Cup. However, their journey in the ISL began with a challenging phase, securing only ten points from their initial 12 matches.
Facing the prospect of missing out on a knockout berth, Simon Grayson's team orchestrated a remarkable turnaround in 2023, winning eight consecutive matches and securing a playoff spot, ultimately finishing in the fourth position on the league table. This comeback stands as one of the most remarkable in ISL history.
In the knockout stage, Bengaluru FC eliminated Kerala Blasters FC, earning a well-deserved spot in the semi-finals after two seasons. Simon Grayson's squad then emerged victorious in a dramatic clash against Mumbai City FC. However, their quest for the championship ended in the final as they succumbed to Mohun Bagan Super Giant in a penalty shootout.
First playoff berth
Odisha FC achieved unprecedented success in the ISL 2022-23, reaching new heights in their club's history. Despite an inconsistent season, the Kalinga Warriors amassed 30 points from 20 games, securing a spot in the ISL playoffs for the first time since the league's inception.
While their playoff journey ended with a 2-0 defeat to Mohun Bagan Super Giant, the mere qualification marked a significant accomplishment for the club. Odisha FC now appears determined to replicate and build upon this success in the current ongoing ISL season.
🔓 Club Milestone Unlocked 🔓— Odisha FC (@OdishaFC) February 24, 2023
For the first time since it’s inception, Odisha FC has qualified for their first Hero ISL Playoffs 🟣⚫️
Time to regroup and put in the hard yards as we prepare for the next stage of the tournament 👊🏻#OdishaFC #AmaTeamAmaGame #TheEasternDragons pic.twitter.com/LA0yeCat7O
Chhangte regained his magical touch
Mumbai City FC forward Lallianzuala Chhangte delivered a stellar performance during the ISL 2022-23 season. His impactful contributions played a crucial role in guiding Mumbai City FC to their second ISL title. With an impressive tally of 10 goals and six assists, the Mizo sensation earned the title of the Player of the Tournament, securing the prestigious ISL Golden Ball award.
In following the footsteps of Sunil Chhetri, who achieved this feat in ISL 2017-18, Chhangte became only the second Indian player to attain such recognition in the league's history.
So honoured to have finally held this in my hands. It feels unreal! Taking the responsibility it comes with, inviting you as my witnesses in my journey of making every minute a chance to get better. I know this is not a coincidence, it's grace from God. 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/IHj7kBNCNJ— Lallianzuala Chhangte (@lzchhangte7) April 1, 2023
Marquez’s leap from success to success
Spanish tactician Manolo Marquez parted ways with Hyderabad FC in June 2023, opting to join FC Goa.
During his three-year tenure in the South, Marquez steered Hyderabad FC to their first ISL Cup title in the 2021-22 season. The subsequent season witnessed another commendable performance as he guided the team to the semi-finals, where they faced a narrow loss to Mohun Bagan SG in a penalty shootout.
Since his move to FC Goa, Manolo Marquez has effortlessly translated his tactical brilliance onto the field. FC Goa have already made a mark in the records halfway through the season, showcasing the fewest goals conceded in the ISL 2023-24, along with an impressive tally of six clean sheets. The Gaurs concluded the year undefeated, securing seven wins and three draws. Currently positioned at the second spot on the league table, they trail the table-toppers Kerala Blasters FC by a mere two points, despite having played two games fewer.
First Promoted Club in the ISL
In 2023, a historic moment unfolded in the ISL as Punjab FC secured promotion after a remarkable success in the I-League. This achievement marked a significant milestone, ushering in a new era for Indian football.
Despite taking Punjab FC 11 matches to clinch their first ISL victory, the Shers consistently displayed glimpses of brilliance from the commencement of the season, earning commendation from their opponents on numerous occasions.
The unwanted record
As the saying goes, records are meant to be broken, but sometimes, it doesn't work in favor of the teams involved.
In the second fixture of Matchweek 11 in the ISL 2023-24 season, when Mumbai City FC clashed with Mohun Bagan SG at the Mumbai Football Arena, a notable record was shattered. The intensity of the match brought out the players' emotions more than anticipated, resulting in reckless tackles during the game and an unsightly brawl after the final whistle.
The match witnessed an unprecedented seven red cards being shown—three to the Kolkata giants and four to the hosts. Unfortunately, this rash display ultimately cost both teams their respective following fixtures.
ANNDDD BREATH 😮💨@MumbaiCityFC come out as the victors from an intense #MCFCMBSG 💥#ISL #ISL10 #LetsFootball #ISLonJioCinema #ISLonSports18 #MumbaiCityFC #MBSG | @MumbaiCityFC pic.twitter.com/KbrvfUrEDq— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) December 20, 2023
FC Goa’s record-breaking streak
In their commanding 4-1 victory against Mohun Bagan SG during Matchweek 11 of ISL 2023-24, FC Goa finally conceded a goal after an impressive five-match clean sheet streak. Dimitri Petratos broke the deadlock with a brilliant free-kick in the 45+8th minute of the match, marking the end of FC Goa's remarkable defensive run. Until this moment, the Gaurs had spent 545 minutes without conceding, establishing a new ISL record and surpassing Mumbai City FC's previous record of 541 minutes from the ISL 2014.
Remarkably, FC Goa managed an even longer stretch without conceding from open play, reaching an impressive 615 minutes. This remarkable defensive record came to an end in the last fixture of 2023 when NorthEast United FC forward Jithin M S found the net.
Thank you to everyone involved with the club on the pitch and off it, you truly made 2023 a terrific year! Roll on 2024 🧡💪🏻 pic.twitter.com/MtjV6iIHkp— FC Goa (@FCGoaOfficial) December 31, 2023
Kerala Blasters FC end drought against Mohun Bagan Super Giant
The Blasters, brilliant on the field against any team, seemed to suffer from a minute weakness named Mohun Bagan SG. Since the inclusion of the Mariners in the ISL, Kerala Blasters FC had never managed to beat them.
However, in the final Matchweek in 2023, an end came to that curse. In the final Matchweek of ISL 2023-24 before the end of the year, Kerala Blasters FC achieved the unthinkable. A brilliantly created goal from Greek forward Dimitrios Diamantakos saw them edge past the Mariners with a 1-0 scoreline, registering their first win over them in the ISL.