The question has finally been answered. Atletico de Kolkata, are the 1st champions of the Hero Indian Super League. An injury time header from Mohammad Rafique gave Kolkata, the coveted trophy as the defeated Kerala Blasters, 1-0. However, the story of the match, might not be written in the score line. On a day, dubbed as ‘the birth of a footballing nation, Kerala Blasters were easily the better sides. Blasters, created the better goal scoring opportunities, but Atletico de Kolkata’s Edel denied the chance of the ‘Yellows’ to edge ahead. Edel, was in inspired form and denied Micheal Chopra, from close range. His goalkeeping antics, kept Atletico de kolkata in the match. Meanwhile, Atletico de Kolkata, were often ripped apart by Kerala Blasters and reverted to counter attacks to justify their meetle. With Luis Garcia on the sideline, Arnal Lilbert powered Atletico de Kolkata’s attack, which fluttered infront of a hefty Kerala defense. Still, as the clock approached time, Atletico de Kolkata, were awarded a corner, which resulted in Mohammad Rafique goal. The Prayag United forward, finished brilliantly and awarded Atletico de Kolkata, the trophy.
Coach Antonio Habas, was full of joy and emotion, and thanked everyone involved with the franchisee, for it’s success. He said, “I must thank my players for they have been magnificent. I cannot ask them for anything more, for they have given me the ultimate gift. I must thank my entire support staff, for without them, I would not have been able to function. The owners have been fantastic and have supported us through thick and thin. This title is for the fans as they have been our strength,”
“I have coached a lot of teams and I have had several moments to cherish and look back upon. But this journey has been something different. It has been an unforgettable experience,” Habas added.
Meanwhile, atmosphere in the Kerala Blasters’ dressing room was somewhat serene. The Blasters had both hands on the trophy, before being snatched away by Atletico de Kolkata. Blasters’ standout player, Iain Hume rued the missed opportunities infront of goal.
“It was devastating, we had a couple of chances, and the keeper pulled off a couple of good saves. It’s a game that I think we could’ve won,” said Hume.
“The worst part about it was that we didn’t have time to come back, you concede in the 93rd minute and you don’t have the time to have one last chance, and it’s just heart breaking because the guys have worked so hard over the last three months,” he added.