Kerala Blasters FC assistant coach Ishfaq Ahmed believes that a win in the opening game of the ISL can set the tone for the season. The Tuskers will be up against the runners-up from last season – ATK-Mohun Bagan in the curtain-raiser of the new season on November 19, at the Fatoda Stadium, in Goa.
It was Fijian striker - Roy Krishna who scored the winner for ATK-Mohun Bagan in the opening match of the 2021-22 ISL season against Kerala Blasters FC. The teams are heading for an identical fixture in the upcoming season as well, on November 19, with the Kerala-based side handed a golden opportunity to avenge the loss from the previous year.
Kerala Blasters FC have started their pre-season under the supervision of their new head coach Ivan Vukomanovic and are currently participating in the Durand Cup, in Kolkata. Their assistant coach, and a former Kerala Blasters FC player, feels that the opening game of the ISL will set the tone for the rest of the season.
"We were expecting that [regarding the opening fixture], the same thing will happen. It's always good. When I was a player, I always loved those kinds of fixtures. Two big teams, they go head-to-head and prove their superiority. I think it's a good match-up. If you get a good result, you can set the tone for the entire season,” said Ishfaq Ahmed, as reported by ANI.
Ishfaq recalled how Roy Krishna, in spite of not having the ball on his feet too much, managed to score the all-important goal last time around. In fact, ATK-Mohun Bagan went on to reach the final last season, while Kerala Blasters FC finished at the 10th spot, just ahead of last-placed Odisha FC.
"I still remember the first match of the last season, we played well but the quality of Roy Krishna, everyone knows that. He didn't have many touches in the game but one of them was a crucial one. So yes, we are looking forward to that. So far, it's been good. We started our pre-season early, and everything is going according to plan," he added.