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Atletico to play in India

La Liga champions Atletico Madrid will travel to India for a pre-season friendly in August ahead of the inaugural Indian Super League which is set to kick-off in September.

Last Updated: 13/06/14 at 12:22 Post Comment

Atletico Madrid: To play in India in August

Atletico Madrid: To play in India in August

The Champions league finalists are joint owners of the Kolkata franchise in the eight-team league along with two Indian businessmen and former Indian Test captain Saurav Ganguly.

Kolkata-native Ganguly is a director of the franchise and will also act as the face of the organisation named Atletico de Kolkata.

“An exhibition match is planned — Atletico versus an invitational XI. We’d like to field a strong invitational team, to compete against Atletico. The idea is to have a good game,” Ganguly told The Telegraph.

Each ISL franchise is allowed a marquee manager and one marquee player and Ganguly insisted Kolkata will work closely with Atletico to identify suitable candidates.

“Our jersey colours will be red and white, the same as Atletico’s, and the logo has been finalised,” he said.

“Our focus now is on putting the Atletico de Kolkata team and the coaching staff together. We’re waiting for an update on the FIFA rules and a draft from IMG-Reliance, the promoters.”

Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar is also a co-owner of one of the ISL teams. Tendulkar has a stake in Cochin-based team Kerala Blasters, derived from his nickname ‘Master Blaster.’

Leading Bollywood actors Salman Khan, John Abraham and Ranbir Kapoor are also co-owners of different ISL teams.

Former World Cup winners Rivaldo and Marcel Desailly have been linked with coaching positions in the ISL, while Robert Pires, Louis Saha and former Newcastle striker Michael Chopra have all been linked in a playing capacity.

Asian Football Awards founder and FA licensed agent Baljit Rihal from Inventive Sports is actively working to attract players to the ISL and he believes the newly-created league could transform the sporting landscape in India.

“The Indian Super League is a chance for India to stake its claim on the world football map,” Rihal told Sky Sports.

“Quite similar to the NASL (North American Soccer League) in the USA in the 1970's, the ISL is hugely dependent on attracting big names to primarily help boost commercial interest in the game. There are many business power houses in the country that are looking for a serious number two to the cricket IPL.

“With the Indian youth's thirst for European football - high profile names could deviate that attention to its own shores. The success of its inaugural event is fundamental to really draw in the big sponsors for events to come.

“If successfully executed this year, the ISL will prove to be the much needed boost that Indian football requires.

“All the right stakeholders are involved to make this a success - the power houses of IMG and Reliance - coupled with the media of Star Sports give the ingredients of a potential game changer in the Indian sports arena.”

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