Kochi | Kerala Blasters coach Steve Coppell has plenty of reasons to look forward to his team’s first home match against Atletico de Kolkata in this edition of the Hero Indian Super League (HISL) at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium tomorrow.
Since taking charge of Kerala Blasters, the former Manchester United winger has been bombarded with tales about the lively atmosphere for a ISL match in Kochi and Coppell is eager to see the excitement that it provides.
“This game is becoming famous around the world for its atmosphere. People have been talking to me about this since I arrived in India so am looking forward to it,” said Coppell on the eve of his team’s second round clash against the former champions.
Kerala Blasters succumbed to the might of NorthEast United FC in the opening game and looked far from impressive.
The Kerala Blasters coach admitted his team was not firing as yet and identified giving away the ball cheaply as one of the reason why they came away from Guwahati with nothing in the bag.
“We kept giving the ball away. It was may be first night nerves, may be just playing away from home. I really can’t understand. But obviously we have to be better in front of our own supporters. We have to keep the ball better. It’s important that we have possession of the ball,” said Coppell.
On the field, despite the vociferous support, Kerala Blasters can have a tough time against Atletico de Kolkata, who snatched a 2-2 draw against defending champions Chennaiyin FC in their opening match.
Atletico de Kolkata are now playing their first match away from home but coach Jose Molina said nothing will change for his side.
“Football is the same whether you play at home or away.
The plan is the same and we will try to have possession, try to fight, try to defend and try to win in the end. We do not have any different strategy,” said the Spanish coach.
Molina did not need any reminding that his team will be up not just against the 11 Kerala Blasters players on the field but also a partisan crowd of 50,000. He has challenged the players to use the intimidating atmosphere to challenge themselves.
“I know there will be a great atmosphere with 50,000 supporters but it’s always good for the players to play in that atmosphere,” said Molina.
Defensive midfielder Ofentse Nato from Botswana has not yet recovered from his injury while the club is still on the hunt for Pablo Gallardo’s replacement.