10 October 2014 18:07
Alessandro Del Piero is confident the Indian Super League can be a success as the newly formed competition gets under way this weekend.
Former Juventus talisman Del Piero is one of a number of ‘marquee’ signings at the eight teams that make up the inaugural ISL, which is being launched to raise the sport’s profile in the country.
As cricket’s Indian Premier League continues to grow in stature, ISL organisers hope the sprinkling of star names will help football take off in India, with a 10-week season beginning on Sunday.
Each side has been allowed one big-name signing, with the majority of their squads made up of Indian players.
That has seen the likes of Del Piero, Fredrik Ljungberg, David Trezeguet and Robert Pires arrive in India to ensure that the ISL has generated plenty of interest.
Del Piero’s Delhi Dynamos have to wait until Monday for their debut at home to Pune City – owned by Serie A side Fiorentina – and the 39-year-old is looking forward to the new challenge.
“I’m very excited, because everything connected to this project, has a flavour of great expectations and enthusiasm,” he told his official website.
“It’s great to contribute to such an important project.”
Former Liverpool forward Luis Garcia is another high-profile name set for life in the ISL.
Garcia will line up for Atletico Madrid-backed Atletico de Kolkata against Mumbai City in the tournament’s opening game at the Salt Lake Stadium.
The star names will not just be on the pitch, though, with former Brazil international Zico and World Cup-winning Italian Marco Materazzi taking on managerial roles.
Zico is head coach at Goa, who have Pires in their squad, and the 61-year-old has his sights set on winning the title.
“My objective is clear,” said Zico. “The objective is to reach the finals and win. I am optimistic about this.
“We have to prepare well, though.
“I want to get to know each and every one of the players well as soon as possible and I will share my philosophy of the game with the team.”
The opening round of fixtures will also see Joan Capdevila’s North East United host Kerala Blasters, managed by former England goalkeeper David James, and Chennaiyin travel to Goa to face Zico’s side.
The top four sides will contest the semi-finals after seven matches in the round-robin stage of the competition before the final on December 20.