Indian Super League: Freddie Ljungberg excited by tournament

By Dev TrehanIndian football writer
Mumbai City player Freddie Ljungberg (right) with manager Peter Reid
Freddie Ljungberg was part of Arsenal's 'Invincibles' that won the Premier League in 2003-04 without losing a game
Listen to a special preview of the Indian Super League on BBC Radio 5 live from 21:00 BST on Monday 6 October

Former Arsenal and West Ham winger Freddie Ljungberg says the inaugural Indian Super League will be a success.

Ljungberg, 37, will play alongside ex-Arsenal and Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka, 35, for Mumbai City, managed by former Sunderland boss Peter Reid.

"In our first game there are going to be 110,000 fans there so it looks like it's going to be a success," said two-time Premier League winner Ljungberg.

The Indian Super League starts on 12 October and lasts for 10 weeks.

Indian Super League facts
Eight franchise clubs will take part in the competition which starts on 12 October and ends on 20 DecemberSalt Lake City, home to Atletico de Kolkata, has a 120,000 capacity
Former England goalkeeper David James is player-manager at Kerala BlastersFormer Brazil midfielder Zico is manager of FC Goa

World Cup winners Alessandro Del Piero, Marco Materazzi, David Trezeguet and Robert Pires are among other high-profile names playing in the league, aimed at improving the popularity of football in India.

"It's a new experience and I'm looking forward to working in a new country," added Ljungberg, who won the Premier League with Arsenal in 2001-02 and 2003-04.

"There's a lot of work to do, but the organisers have been extremely professional in terms of the back-up for all the players.

"I've only been here a few days but how they've pitched it is that there is a massive interest in football among India's youth."

Sweden international Ljungberg says there is pressure on the big-name players taking part in the ISL to perform on the pitch and inspire youngsters off it.

Nicolas Anelka
Nicolas Anelka, who played for six Premier League clubs, is one of the high-profile players in the event

"There is expectation on us, and people in India are hoping we are going to play some good football," he said. "That's why we're here and that is what we are going to try and do.

"But as marquee players we also need to help off the pitch. There is so much we can do to try and inspire people and I'm excited to be a part of that.

"If we can inspire some of the youngsters then hopefully we can change the future for Indian football."

Ljungberg is looking forward to be playing in the same side as his former Arsenal team-mate Anelka.

"My job will be to pass to Nicolas and hopefully he is going to score the goals," he said.

"The team is going to try and win the league. That is the bar the team is trying to set so that is what we are aiming for."

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