Away from the razzmatazz of the Indian Super League (ISL), the Durand Cup, Asia's oldest football tournament, has begun quietly in Goa. However, among those taking part in this 127-year-old tournament are India captain Sunil Chhetri, his national team strike partner Robin Singh and a slew of top Indian footballers who were prevented by their clubs from playing in the ISL.
"The right word is content. Right now, with the number of tournaments that I will be playing, including the Durand Cup, then the Federation Cup and the I-League, I would say I have my plate full," Chhetri told HT over the phone from Goa.
"One has to live with what is on offer. At the beginning of the last season, we all knew that while signing our contracts what this would entail. My club, Bengaluru FC, decided on a way forward and we are standing by it."
To that Robin added he is optimistic about a solution next season. "Yes, I would like to play on the same field as Nicolas Anelka and David James. That is something we all aspire to do. May be next season things would work out and there would be more cohesiveness between the two leagues," he said.
No stranger to disappointment, having been benched by an MLS team and by the Sporting Lisbon B team, Chhetri, 30, didn't sound that upbeat.
"I still have a year's contract left with them (Bengaluru FC). I will see at the end of the season, if any concrete solution appears between the I-League and the ISL and take a call accordingly," he said.
India's highest goal-scorer of all time, Chhetri, also said he 'respectfully' refused requests from franchise owners. About the tournament, he said: "It has been a fantastic start for the ISL. The crowds are enjoying the league. I see many families eager to watch a few matches in the stadium. I hope it is a huge success."