A capacity crowd at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi for the opening fixture of the ISL, Kerala Blasters FC vs ATK, left India national team coach Igor Stimac well impressed with their support. Stimac commended the organizers for the overall effort to conduct a competition like the ISL.
Kerala Blasters FC defeated two-time champions ATK 2-1 in the opening fixture of season 6 of the Indian Super League (ISL) in front of a capacity crowd at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi. In attendance, getting his first taste of ISL football was India national team head coach Igor Stimac and needless to say, the Croat was left impressed with what he saw.
Stimac was left spellbound by the passion and fervour of the capacity home crowd. Referencing to the sold-out crowds the India national team played in front of at Guwahati (vs Oman) and Kolkata (vs Bangladesh) recently in their FIFA World Cup Qualifiers campaign, the 52-year-old stated, "It’s great to be a part of it. Guwahati, then Kolkata, two sold-out stadiums, and now coming here (Kochi). I heard a lot about passion (of Kerala fans). I heard it in Doha when Manjappada was behind us throughout the 90 minutes (during the match against Qatar) and they were fantastic. This time, they were amazing here."
The opening ceremony consisted of glittering performances by Bollywood personalities Tiger Shroff and Disha Patani and award-winning dance group King's United. The Blue Tigers head coach commended the organizers for the overall effort that goes behind conducting a competition like the ISL.
ATK scored within the first six minutes of the match through a stunning strike by Carl McHugh but Bartholomew Ogbeche’s brace saw Kerala pull off a comeback to win the opener 2-1. Stimac is of the opinion that both these teams are top-four worthy.
"It’s the start of the ( ISL) season. First few rounds, the legs will be heavy from the pre-season training sessions. But I see both teams (Kerala and ATK) as top four (contenders) for the season. They are very serious teams, they have good structure, good coaches."
The World Cup bronze medallist, further, as an advice to all the young Indian footballers waiting to prove themselves on the ISL stage this season, said, “Just do your best. Do not put pressure on yourself of making mistakes. And if the coach believes in you, if he puts you in the line-up then do the best you can. Because, that’s all that matters, who is on the pitch and how he plays, that’s the only way you can be in the first XI."
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi