Khabra, Rahul KP light up Twitter Space, have high hopes for Kerala Blasters FC in upcoming Hero ISL season

Image credit (left): Kerala Blasters@Twitter

Kerala Blasters FC’s new signing Harmanjot Khabra and one of their most impressive youngsters from last season, Rahul KP have high hopes for the team ahead of the 2021-22 Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL).

Khabra, a seasoned Hero ISL defender, has won the prestigious league twice -- with Chennaiyin FC in 2015 and Bengaluru FC in 2018-19. He believes he can create similar memories along with the help of his new teammates, Rahul and others, at Kerala Blasters FC.

“As a professional, as a footballer, it’s been a great journey, there are a lot of memories. So many wins and also losses. I have now joined Kerala Blasters FC, the best. Here is my partner Rahul and hopefully we can make great memories together,” Khabra, in the company of Rahul, said on Let’s Football Live on Twitter Space.

“We were playing a small game yesterday and I came up with an aggressive slide on a player, thereafter everything changed. Everyone wanted to kill each other. They started to get physical. So sometimes you do such things intentionally to bring the best out in your teammates,” he added.

Rahul, who scored three goals in 17 appearances last season, believes Khabra is the type of player the Blasters desperately needed. “He has something other players don’t have. A lot of players probably have it inside them but they never bring it out often because they are afraid of something. So, he provided the spark and thereafter it became a fire. The training session went so smooth after that. Everyone was pushing their limit, going for the duels, not afraid at all. When Khabra-bhai first arrived at the hotel, I was like ‘this is the right guy. This is the right set-up for me, I will be with him, will ask him what I need to do because he has played for a lot bigger clubs in the country’,” he said.

Two-time Hero ISL finalists, the Blasters haven’t qualified for the semi-finals since 2016 and that has been a big disappointment for their fans. Last season, they finished 10th on the points table. Khabra thanked Kerala Blasters FC fans for the respect they showered him with after he joined the club and urged them to keep supporting them, highlighting why it was important.

“Fans mean a lot; they are the real support to the club. The franchise, the owners need to have this kind of support but I think Kerala Blasters FC are already the winner in this regard. The respect they have shown, I can’t even explain. It’s the best feeling as a player. It’s unbelievable that they have embraced me despite the fact that I have given them a tough challenge in the past. As a player, now it’s my turn to give them some good moments and that’s what they are expecting. I urge them to keep supporting us, the turnaround won’t happen overnight because the other teams are also strong. But together we can do it,” he said.

Khabra also praised his former team-mate and Bengaluru FC skipper Sunil Chhetri for his work ethics and hopes Kerala Blasters FC will come out on top against the Blues in the upcoming season. “I have seen him play under pressure, the way he scored against KBFC. Subhasish Roy was trying to play mind games in goal and suddenly he scored. I feel I am a competitive guy but he was the one who set the bar really high in the dressing room. In training, he ensures everyone is in the same direction. This is what I have learnt from him, a leader. At his age he is doing his best, he is challenging all youngsters, it’s not a joke. He has inspired me and I think I can also play five more years,” the 32-year-old said.

“If we can win against them that would be the best thing for me. It’s not all about Sunil-paaji, they have other quality players too. My army has to be ready to challenge them. Not just against BFC but also other teams. I have played for Chennaiyin FC and East Bengal [now SC East Bengal] in the past. So I won’t be putting undue pressure on myself against BFC. Of course, the challenge is there. At BFC, we had a Harmanjot-Chhetri formula which was that I will provide the cross and he will score. I hope he is at the top of his game when we play, it will be a great game,” he added.

Rahul will soon be joining the national team camp starting in Kolkata from August 15 onwards and he has set his mind on impressing head coach Igor Stimac through sheer hard work. “I have had call-ups 2-3 times before but because of injuries and then Covid, I couldn’t participate. Looking forward to joining the team and do my thing …The national team call-up is not an easy thing. I am preparing for that 100%, going to go there and focus on my training. Don’t want to leave any stone unturned and then the rest is up to the coach. If I can fit into his formation, then surely, I will play. If not, then I need to train more to adapt. That’s what I need to do,” the 21-year-old said.


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