Vineeth, Nandy want to win the trophy for Kerala’s passionate fans
Players from Kerala Blasters FC and Atlético de Kolkata addressed the media ahead of Hero Indian Super League 2016’s grand finale at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Sunday. Kerala top-scorer this season, CK Vineeth and their penalty shootout hero Sandip Nandy represented the Blasters, while Jewel Raja and Abinash Ruidas were in attendance to field questions from reporters.
Nandy expressed his delight at getting the opportunity to play the final at home. “I am very proud to get a chance in the ISL. I’ve been part of the Blasters for three years. I’m enjoying playing with Kerala because we have the most beautiful fans. Great atmosphere because the final is in front of the home crowd. Tomorrow is a tough match because I believe Kolkata is the toughest team in the ISL. Not an easy job. But we are ready to fight and hopefully will lift the trophy tomorrow because of our fans. In three years, we could not give them anything. Last year, I felt very sad for our fans. This year we won most of our home games because of our fans. They are an encouraging lot, they cheer us a lot, so tomorrow we want to give them something. So, I am hopeful tomorrow,” he said.
The 41-year-old custodian made it clear that tomorrow’s game will not be about revenge having been a part of the losing side in the final of Hero ISL 2014 when ATK pipped Kerala 1-0. “No, this is not about any sort of revenge. We are fortunate to be playing in front of our home fans. We won’t get such opportunities twice. The fans have always been supportive no matter what, and this is our opportunity to repay,” Nandy said.
Nandy was also self-critical as regards his performance in the second leg of their semi-final against Delhi Dynamos FC. “Personally, I’m not happy with my performance in the semi-finals. I made a few mistakes in the last match, and the two goals could have been avoided. I am grateful to Sandesh [Jhingan] for helping me out with a mistake. But the position of the goalkeeper is such that whenever you concede, the finger is pointed at you. I had a misunderstanding with the defenders, but I will try to make up for it later if I get a chance,” he said.
Nandy’s teammate Vineeth, highest scoring Indian this season with five goals, responded in the negative when asked if playing at home adds to the pressure. “Crowd is there to support us, it is not pressure. We are trying to give something back to our fans, so we just have to play our game. There is no pressure,” Vineeth said.
Commenting on how it felt to play alongside Borja Fernandez, ATK midfielder Raja offered an insight into the atmosphere in the Kolkata camp: “It feels good playing with Borja. He is a big player, he supports us a lot, guides us how to play. We are practically a family,” he said.
Ruidas, who is playing in his first Hero ISL season, echoed Raja’s sentiments on the matter. “First of all, it is my first ISL, so the likes of Javi Lara, Postiga, and Hume are big players and they count on me. They tell me how to perform in the big match, give me extra tips and these advice help me a lot,” Ruidas said.