Indian Super League (ISL) was the phenomenal event that changed the Indian outlook towards football. The final match of the 2014 season made sure that the beautiful game was here to stay. The final match played between Atletico de Kolkata and Kerala Blasters FC came to a nail biting finish after Mohammed Rafique shot the winning goal in the 95th minute. It kept the fans waiting for the 2015 season.
As a team that trailed in the beginning, Kerala Blasters was the surprise entry into the semi finals of 2014. The Kerala crowd that stormed the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium gave their favourite team their full support. Team co owner Sachin Tendulkar became a fan magnet. The roaring fans nicknamed the Canadian player Iain Hume, ” Hume ettan( Hume brother)”. Kochi matches took the top positions in attendance. The roar of the 60000 plus crowd gave Blasters the strength and taunted the opponents. Iain Hume did reciprocate the enthusiasm in gameplay.
Watching FC GOA thrashing Kerala Blasters FC , one thing that I now doubt is , did the Kerala crowd fill the stadium out of their love for the team ,or its owner?
Sachin Tendulkar is the favourite of Keralites. Sachin too loves Kerala and Kochi. Both his five wicket hauls were at Kochi JNI Stadium. He recently bought a new home at Kochi . The match attendance figures at Kochi saw hikes for the matches when Sachin was present. The posters from crowd supporting the team had equal numbers of “MISS YOU SACHIN!!!” posters. The classic Indian cheer of ” SACHIN!!!! SACHIN!!!!” echoed in the galleries along with roars for the Blasters, and at times, louder than that.
Of course KBFC is not a perfect team. It has it’s own pros and cons. The transfer of Iain Hume( now called ” Hume da” by Atletico de Kolkata fans), over experimental head coach Peter Taylor, his resignation, key players like Marchena, Sanchez Watt leaving the team injured did weaken the already weak Blasters this season.
Switched off the TV when Reinaldo scored his hat trick against Blasters.
Better luck next time, Blasters.