Kerala Blasters' record-signing Nishu Kumar has admitted that ATK Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City FC are the two toughest teams in the impending season of the Indian Super League, to be kick-started in Goa on November 20. Kerala Blasters will take on the new-look ATK in the tournament opener.
With the Indian Super League finally getting underway at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Friday, a lot of sub-plots will keep the fans and rivalry interesting. As a matter of fact, last season’s I-League champions Mohun Bagan have merged with ATK to join ISL and have released head coach Kibu Vicuna to continue with Antonio Habas. Subsequently, Vicuna joined the South Indian side and tomorrow’s game will give him a lot to munch about.
One of the biggest pieces in Vicuna’s puzzle will be his new recruit Nishu Kumar who will be the back-up to the attacking duo of Roy Krishna and David Williams. Kumar, who was a regular in Bengaluru FC for over half a decade, will be donning the yellow for the first time and understandably he is really excited to pay back the trust shown by the former Mohun Bagan manager. He too understands the magnanimity of the occasion and how tough a challenge the refurbished team can provide come Friday.
"ATK (Mohun Bagan) are a very good team. They are the defending champions (sic) . We are preparing well for the opening game, it will be a very good game, we are ready for that. Mumbai City and ATK (Mohun Bagan), I feel are the toughest teams,” Kumar said in the pre-match presser from Goa.
Nishu, who was signed by Bengaluru FC in late 2015 after a stint with AIFF Elite Academy as a part of Tata Tea & Inter Milan Soccer Stars talent hunt, will be playing for anyone other than Bengaluru for the first time on the professional circuit. Natually, it will be an emotional challenge for the man from Muzaffarnagar who has grown up with legends like Sunil Chhetri and rising Indian stars like Udanta Singh on his side at BFC. However, he is bracing for the opportunity to be up against the side from Bangalore in yellow jersey this time.
"I grew as a player at BFC. I played so many games and got chances to improve. I will face (Sunil) Chhetri bhai, Udanta (Singh) or Ashique (Kuruniyan) when I play so I am really excited. Kerala Blasters vs Bengaluru is a big rivalry in India so I am waiting for that game," he said.