KERALA BLASTERS COACH Steve Coppell doesn't think that playing the game at home will be that big a deal tomorrow night as KBFC fight Atletico de Kolkata in the ISL 2016 finale.
Asked about the history that the teams have between themselves - having played each other in the ISL 2014 final - Coppell was asked whether the memories of that occasion where ATK won 1-0 would have an influence on the game. The coach replied,
"No, history doesn’t matter and tomorrow is just one game in isolation. It's one game of 90 minutes and it is a unique occasion and will not be decided by anything other than good gameplay. I hope the players can have a good game and enjoy themselves."
The Blasters will have a tremendous home advantage playing in front of a sold out crowd in their home ground in Kochi; the most vibrant venue in the ISL. When quizzed about that, he said,
“It will be a comfortable atmosphere for us as it is our home ground and the crowd gives us huge support but the crowd doesn’t play and whoever wins tomorrow has got to earn the trophy by playing well and being committed and the crowd is a great background for us to play against but it not going to give us goals and stop goals from going in. It is more pleasant for us and I am glad we are at home but it means nothing in terms of two teams playing against each other.”
He said that in the end, the team that holds their own for all 90 minutes ends up winning,
“Once you are on the field it doesn’t really matter what happens outside and I hope tomorrow is going to be about who is going to be the best team on the evening and I hope it is good football and the kind of football that everyone wants to see. I think both teams would like to attack and we will enjoy the occasion and the crowd will make sure of that, and the support will be fabulous to see. It will not be an advantage or disadvantage but just background.”
Asked about how the Indian players in his squad have been benifitting from the ISL experience, he said they were taking away a lot of exposure and experience but needed a better domestic setup (i.e. a merger of leagues) to take their quality to the next level via a better competitive environment,
“I think from Day One the Indian players have been like sponges and they want to soak up knowledge, experience and they want to interact with the foreign players to learn how things are done in other countries and they need more experience to develop as players and technically and physically they have the capabilities to do better and they only do that when they have an opportunity to play more competitive games. A player plays in the I-league and ISL and he plays 30 games a season while the international players are playing 45-50 games a season and it is that competition that brings out better techniques and more footballing wisdom, so going forward I would say that Indian players are ready to take that step. They need the environment, that’s all.”
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