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Constantine: KBFC look invincible in Kochi

17 December 2016ISL Media Team
Constantine: Kerala are quite invincible in front of that yellow stadium

Indian national football team coach Stephen Constantine believes that it will be difficult for Atlético de Kolkata to overcome Kerala Blasters FC in the final of Hero Indian Super League 2016 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Sunday. The Blasters have been in scintillating form at home this season, winning their last six matches in Kochi and speaking to indiansuperleague.com, Constantine admitted that playing in front of more than 50,000 people almost gives Kerala an air of invincibility.

“I think it is a huge advantage playing at home in front of your own crowd. You cannot deny that in Kochi the playing arena is a bit far away from the stands and one may be tempted to think it may reduce the crowd impact. But at the same time, you need to take into consideration that the Blasters have won six at home. I am a bit tempted to say that they are quite invincible in front of that ‘yellow stadium.’ With the noise and support they enjoy, the crowd will certainly be a factor,” he said.The 54-year-old also tipped Kerala’s CK Vineeth (highest-scoring Indian this season with five goals) and ATK’s Iain Hume (second-highest scorer this season with seven goals) to have a major influence on the game tomorrow. “I think that CK Vineeth with his speed could be a factor. He has been the darling of the home fans and would be full charged up as would be Iain Hume up front for ATK. Hume had missed out on the trophy in the inaugural edition when he was playing for the Blasters and he would be charged up too,” Constantine said.

When asked that between Kerala and Kolkata who he thought were better equipped to win the league, Constantine said: “I wouldn't like to comment on the technical aspects of both the teams. Two of the best teams, who have been consistent all through have made it to the summit clash. There is a reason why they are there ahead of the others and I feel it should be a very good game. Both the teams are equally capable of lifting the trophy. You need to remember that it’s a cup final and anything can happen.”

The Englishman also lauded Kerala head coach Steve Coppell and Atlético de Kolkata head coach Jose Molina for leading their respective teams to the final inspiringly. “Obviously reaching the final is an achievement and both coaches deserve the credit. Knowing Steve more than Jose, I am not all surprised that he has guided his team to the final. He is a top-class man and a very good coach at the same time. His credentials speak for themselves. He is a fellow Englishman and it’s normal that I will have a soft corner for him to win the final. But Jose is at the same time a very good coach too and has done it perfectly till the final. Both the coaches are winners. May the best team win,” he said.

When asked how this season compared with the previous two, Constantine said: “I think teams are trying to go with more younger and active players in comparison to what was done in the previous two editions. That’s surely a very positive sign and can only be good for the league and beneficial for Indian Football.”

Constantine also chose NorthEast United FC’s Rowllin Borges and Kerala Blasters’ duo of Sandesh Jhingan and Vineeth as the standout domestic performers from this season of the league. “I think Borges is going to be a top player in India and I am very satisfied and pleased to see CK Vineeth get back to the form he showed when I first arrived two years back. Among the others, Sandesh Jhingan was played out of position and I would have loved to see him in central defence,” he said.

He continued: “Furthermore, there are several Indian players who have caught our eye with their performances in Hero ISL 2016 and we will be keeping a close tab on them in the I-League, which kicks off next. Given the fact that the next national camp is in March, these players need to continue the good work for them to get a call when we assemble for the preparatory camp for the Asian Cup qualifiers.”

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