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Atletico de Kolkata, Chennaiyin FC look the best in ISL, says Baichung Bhutia

"They are very consistent in their game, but it's too early to pick who would be the champions," the former India captain told IBNLive Sports.

Subhasish Dutta | News18 Sports

Updated:October 28, 2014, 10:28 AM IST
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Atletico de Kolkata, Chennaiyin FC look the best in ISL, says Baichung Bhutia
"They are very consistent in their game, but it's too early to pick who would be the champions," the former India captain told IBNLive Sports.

The Indian Super League (ISL) has successfully completed its first two weeks and the country's football fans have been witness to some gruelling and mouth-watering encounters. Talking about how the teams have fared so far in the tournament, former Indian football captain Baichung Bhutia believes Atletico de Kolkata and Chennaiyin FC look the best so far.

"Atletico de Kolkata have played top-quality football. They are very consistent in their game. Apart from them, Chennaiyin FC have also been a very good team," Bhutia told IBNLive Sports while admitting it's too early to pick the champions. "It's still too early to pick favourites but these two teams are standout performers," he said.

From Arsene Wenger to Diego Simeone, the ISL has made many people sit up and take notice. And the inaugural season has mesmerized the game's fans in India to the T as none would have ever imagined stars like Alessandro Del Piero, Luis Garcia, Nicolas Anelka, Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg and David Trezeguet would be playing in India.

When asked if it is possible to see Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger managing an ISL team five or six seasons down the line, Bhutia said: "We never know. Who thought greats like Zico would manage an ISL team? I am sure nobody. So, everything can be possible."

Bhutia himself cleverly outfoxed many rival defenders during his long career and was hailed 'God's gift to Indian football'. Now often seen as a soccer pundit on TV shows, Bhutia says he would have loved to be part of the Indian football's renaissance in the Indian Super League.

"I would have loved to play in the ISL, probably ten years back," Bhutia told IBNLive Sports over a telephonic chat, while also expressing surprise over the consistent high turnouts in the ISL.

"The ISL has generated a lot of buzz everywhere. It is very heartening to see Indian football getting this attention. We didn't expect matches will witness such high turnouts. I am surprised to see this happen. It's a very positive thing for football in this country," Bhutia said.

Affectionately termed 'The Sikkimese Sniper' because of his uncanny ability to find the goal, Bhutia left behind a trail of 42 goals in 107 appearances for the country spread over 16 years. He recently became the sole Indian to be inducted into the AFC's Hall of Fame along with nine other legendary Asian players.

Like many others who are associated with Indian football, Bhutia acknowledges that a lot more has to be done for India to progress in the world of football but says the ISL is just the ideal start.

"The quality of football has been very good. The facilities provided by the team managements have been top-notch. It's a step in the right direction and hopefully will benefit Indian football."

Born in the village of Tinkitam in Sikkim, Bhutia is the most capped player in Indian football and became the first to represent India in 100 matches. He is also one of the few non-cricketing sportspersons to have enjoyed the same fame and acknowledgement as cricketers in the country.

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