Two years ago when the ISL was launched, Kerala Blasters lost to Atletico de Kolkata in the final in Mumbai by a solitary goal.
New Delhi: With a massive crowd behind them plus a record five-match winning run at home, Kerala Blasters will have reason to believe they can topple Atletico de Kolkata for the Indian Super League title in Sunday’s final.
Two years ago when the ISL was launched, Kerala Blasters lost to Atletico de Kolkata in the final in Mumbai by a solitary goal. The loss was heart-breaking for Kerala and they will now be eager to settle scores as the two teams square up again in the final of this edition at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi.
“It’s two years ago and we have only a couple of players who were part of that match. In fact we have one player who scored the winning goal (in that match),” said Kerala Blasters head coach Steve Coppell.
That player is Mohammed Rafique who came off the bench to head home the winner for ATK in the fourth minute of added time to seal a historic victory for the Kolkata-based side.
Since then, much has changed. Rafique is now with the Blasters, incidentally scoring the winning penalty in the semi-final against Delhi Dynamos on Wednesday. “A lot has changed. This is a totally different competition. A sense of revenge won’t drive us. What will drive us on is the team spirit and the determination to win the final,” said Coppell.
Kerala have a five-match winning run at their home stadium which has attracted massive crowd. A record crowd is expected to turn up for the final but Coppell warned that such a turn-out alone cannot guarantee his team of their first-ever ISL title.
Kerala’s opponents will be equally determined to put it across the home side and win the competition twice in three years. ATK are the only side to qualify for the play-offs year and another title will be an added feather to their cap.
The final is also being billed as a clash between Sachin Tendulkar (co-owner of Blasters) and Sourav Ganguly (co-owner of Kolkata), who formed one of the best batting partnerships in world cricket during their playing days.