Impressed with Kerala Blasters fans’ love for football, Costa hopes to contribute in a big way

Costa Nhamoinesu is in his first season with the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) and by his own admission it’s been a tough campaign in light of the protocols necessitated by the ongoing pandemic. The former Zimbabwe international joined Kerala Blasters FC ahead of the season and is expected to optimize the defence as the season goes on. The 34-year-old recently spoke to and discussed a variety of topics. To begin with, he did shed light on life in the mandatory bio-secure bubble.

"This situation is new to everyone, but it is gratifying that we are on the path of survival. I was in quarantine alone for a few days from the day I arrived in Goa and then participated in pre-season matches and training, and later in the matches. The team-mates, especially the young players… they are the ones who keep me up to date on the current situation outside. They are my teachers now and they tell jokes around me in Indian languages. I can’t understand the language, but I can understand that they are saying things about me. They all look very energetic both inside and outside the field. They are fully dedicated to the club," Costa said.

Kerala haven’t had a good start to the ongoing season, having been winless so far. Talking about what Kerala Blasters were aiming for in 2020-21 in terms of work ethos, Costa said: "This is a new season. It's a whole new team. It's important to have a bond between all the players. It's not about the individuals, it's about the team. It's not about the individual's abilities, it's about the team's ability."

It's no secret how passionate Kerala Blasters fans are, backing their team come hell or high water. Costa was pleasantly surprised by Kerala fans’ love for football and their team. "The fans of the team really surprised me. The fans, they seem to want to live inside a football. They adore football and are a very active fan base that sincerely supports the club, " he said.

Costa, who has immense experience of playing in Zimbabwe, Poland and the Czech Republic, also brought to light as to what led to his joining Kerala Blasters FC. "After I ended my career with Sparta Prague [after seven years], I started thinking about another club. I had to experience the excitement of football at its highest level. I had a lot of opportunities in front of me but I had not decided where to go or where to play yet.

“That's when the Kerala Blasters opportunity came. I did not know the team. I tried to learn about the Blasters. History and perspective. I was surprised to find out. Fans‌... their support... The high-intensity excitement and vibe that I wanted, something every footballer desires. I wondered why I never knew about the team before. The fans were similar to what I had seen before in the Czech Republic! The team’s perspective also brought me closer to the team. Finally, I decided that this is my club," revealed Costa.

In order to get acquainted with Kerala, known as God’s Own Country in tourism lingo, Costa did his bit in terms of research before coming to India and joining the club.  "I read a lot about Kerala online. I saw documentaries on Netflix and other online media. I also saw a few videos about Munnar recently. I really liked the place. The greenery, the rivers! I want to go to all these places if the current pandemic situation improves after the league," he said.

Costa is someone who swears by the word “aggression”. Being a hard tackler, he often gets in trouble with the referees but that doesn’t deter him and he wants to keep playing that way.  "…Work for the team as much as possible. Support your teammates. Attacking is part of football. Sometimes it hurts. Ultimately, we should work together to support each other and score goals for the team. Once the game starts it is a battle. That is the passion and real spirit of football. I hope my skills will help my team," he said.

Kerala Blasters head coach Kibu Vicuna and Costa go back a long way. Touching on their association, the Zimbabwean said: "He was our assistant coach at the Zaglebie Lubin club in Poland. He always handled everything with a smile. He was a very friendly person. I loved working with him. Now it is a new chapter."

Talking about his biggest assets as a player, Costa said: "I consider it my greatest ability to be able to play the way the coach wants me, and I consider it my great fortune to be able to perform well without injury."

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