Kolkata: The ninth edition of the National Football League kicks off at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata today. Defending Champions East Bengal will take on rivals Mohun Bagan in the opening match. But this season's NFL promises to be a bit different from the previous eight editions as the government-owned ONGC has decided to sponsor the event. "See whenever you are financially sound, there is definitely an air of confidence in the way you play," said Ghaus Mohammed, TV commentator. "The Rs 7 crores that have come from ONGC to the Federation for the NFL will without a doubt help the game in India, help the players since they will get more money," he added. Bengal domain The eight seasons of the National Football League have so far produced just four different winners. It has basically been the private fiefdom of the two Kolkata giants - East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. Only JCT Mills and Salgaocar managed to burst the Bengal bubble twice, once in the opening season of the NFL and the second time in 1998-1999. "It has always been a case of so near, yet in the end so far for teams from Goa. The problem is that Goan teams fail to maintain the momentum throughout the season, which is exactly the opposite for the teams from Bengal," explained Ghaus. Although the title could once again become a two horse race between the six clubs from Goa and the three from Kolkata, the dark horse will without a doubt be Mumbai's Mahindra United.
Topics : Football