Raja happy to have played his role in ATK’s title triumph
Jewel Raja hit the winning penalty for Atlético de Kolkata in their 4-3 shootout win over Kerala Blasters FC in the final of Hero Indian Super League 2016 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Sunday. The match ended at 1-1 in normal time after goals from Mohammed Rafi in the 37th minute and Henrique Sereno in the 44th minute. Both teams had opportunities of winning the match in extra-time but neither could make their chances count as the game headed to the dreaded penalty shootout. Kerala had the early advantage following Iain Hume’s miss for Kolkata, however, unsuccessful penalties from Elhadji Ndoye and Cedric Hengbart set up Raja to convert the winning penalty. The 26-year-old spoke to indiansuperleague.com after the shootout and shared his thoughts on the triumph. Here are the excerpts from the interview.
You have won Hero ISL 2016, how does it feel?
I’m feeling really great, last year we could not get past the semi-finals, so it feels great to win the league this year. I’m very proud of the team and very happy that it was my penalty that won us the trophy.
What was going on in your head in the lead-up to that penalty?
Before the match I was very relaxed and during the penalty as well I was relaxed. I knew I had to shoot on the right since I knew the goalkeeper was very strong.
The atmosphere was great tonight but you managed to silence the crowd. What do you have to say about that?
We were really happy the final was in Kerala since every footballer wants to play in front of 60-70 thousand people.
How are you going to celebrate this win?
Obviously, we are going to celebrate this win, last year we played an amazing game against Chennaiyin FC in the semis but lost, so I think we deserve to celebrate.