KOCHI: Kerala Blasters FC’s semi-final hero Sandip Nandy wants to shut out the opposition for one final time and win Hero Indian Super League trophy for the first time in front of passionate supporters at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi, on Sunday.
Nandy saved all three penalties against Delhi Dynamos in the second-leg semi-final to take his team to the final and now wants to win the all-important trophy to give their massive support base something to cheer in three years.
“I’ve enjoyed playing in ISL with Kerala Blasters. I think they are the most beautiful fans. We are lucky to have such a great atmosphere. We are playing final in front of our home crowd. It will be tough against Atletico de Kolkata but we are ready to fight. In three years, we couldn’t give anything to our fans. Last season we did not win a single match at home and this year we have won most of our matches. Kerala fans deserve trophy,” said Nandy.
Sunday’s final is a repeat of the inaugural edition when both these teams clashed in the title clash, only for Atletico de Kolkata to snatch the title at the fag end of the match. It was heartbreaking for Kerala and Nandy, who has been with Kerala Blasters since the first season, wants to make amends.
“We won’t get such a chance again to play final in front of our fans. We must give our 200 percent and win the trophy,” said Nandy.
While the huge support for Kerala Blasters in Kochi will work to their advantage in the final, Atletico de Kolkata are also looking forward to the clash. The supporters will be cheering for Kerala but, according to opposition players, they will be motivated as well.
“Nobody wants to play in front of empty stadium. Whether they are supporting us or them doesn’t matter. Just the atmosphere of a packed stadium will bring the best out of us,” said ATK midfielder Jewel Raja.
Another ATK player who is just as excited as winger Abinash Ruidas, playing his first season in ISL. He has done well with his team so far and won’t get overawed with the packed-stadium since he is used to big crowd in Kolkata derbies between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal.
“The crowd (cheering Kerala) won’t be a problem. It’s the same experience like in a derby,” said Ruidas.