Sunday, November 13 marks a special occasion for FC Goa forward Alvaro Vazquez as he lines up to take the field for the Men in Orange against his former club, Kerala Blasters FC in his first-ever game in the football-crazy state after playing in the COVID-induced Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021/22 season which was played inside a bio-bubble.

Having propelled the Blasters to their first final in six seasons, the Spaniard was a cult hero in the state, but as he goes back, his mind is firmly set on coming away with all three points. And whilst he remains grateful for the love he received in Kerala, Vazquez does not want the respect for his former club to be mistaken for insecurity.

“The Blasters’ fans are great people. But the objective, once the game starts, is always the same - to get the three points,” the 31-year-old said on Thursday when quizzed about visiting his former club’s home.

“Well, this is football, is it not? Sometimes we go our separate ways. And now, as an FC Goa player, my intentions are to give my best for my team.

“I’m happy to meet all of them. I’ve always enjoyed the love and support of the Kerala Blasters fans, so this would be my opportunity to thank them.”

Fully-fit after an injury layoff

A nagging injury has meant that the eloquent forward is frustrated - having clocked just 100 minutes across two appearances so far, missing out against Chennaiyin FC and Jamshedpur FC. And with FC Goa winning three of their first four matches with not much impact from the Spaniard, the Goa faithful tantalisingly await Vazquez’s return as they look to hit top gear.

“Before the second game, I had a problem with my hamstring, I couldn't fully recover it until now.  It's not my best start but all of that is in the past now, I'm here and I’m ready,” the striker said.

“It’s a special game, and I’m happy and motivated to do well.”

At Kochi, Vazquez and co. will be backed by nearly 200 FC Goa fans, who are travelling to the city to watch the game from the away stands. The former Spain U-20 international appreciated the support in his parting message.

“First of all, thanks to our fans for making the trip and for supporting us in the stadium. Secondly, we want to give them the victory and continue the fight for the highest honours,” he signed off.