65-year-old Nelo Vingada, who replaced David James as Kerala's head coach, is excited to kickstart his era with the Blasters against Steve Coppell’s ATK. Vingada believes that the quality of the players in his squad his higher than what the results show.
“One week ago, I did not know too much about Kerala. Now I know more but not enough. It will never be enough. I was watching a lot of videos.
“Now I have better information. Regarding the feedback I received from the staff, the conclusion is that the level of the players is better than what is being shown,” the Portuguese said.
The former NorthEast United boss is aware of Kerala’s weaknesses and wants to build a team that commands respect from the opponents and wins the fans over.
“We have to understand why the team lost in the last minutes. Most defeats are coming in the last twenty minutes. In the remaining six games, we have to win. We have to win our confidence and the respect of our fans. Opponents must feel that they are playing a team with another attitude.”
ATK is the only team that Kerala has managed to defeat this season and the Professor wants his players to play the game of their lives on Friday
“The next game is always the most important. The only win we have till now was there. We cannot forget, we have to understand the past. I am very optimistic. The most important part will be the cooperation and the way that players understand my message. It is the game of our lives tomorrow (Friday) during the ninety minutes. We have to win.”
The new boss wants the team to show the winning spirit to the fans and win them over. The attendance for Kerala's games has dwindled due to poor performances.
“I am looking much more into our team. These three days, all my concentration will be going for our team. I respect ATK. This is my style.”
“If the players can put the best tomorrow, they are ready to play. We have to be real great fighters. We have to show for the fans, our spirit to win. Look game by game, not the end of the season.”
Midfielder Zakeer Mundampara will be missing six months worth of action after AIFF banned him for hurling the ball at the referee’s face in Kerala’s game against Mumbai earlier this season. Vingada was unsure about the punishment handed out.
“This happened before I came. In Europe, six months mean that the behaviour was really bad. I don't know, he threw the ball? Zakeer is in the position of Nikola (Krcmarevic), he will miss the remaining season. It is an important miss for us. I cannot cry, these things happen. He is a good player. These kinds of things are not good for Indian football. “
CK Vineeth and Halicharan Narzary were shipped to Chennaiyin FC for the remainder of the season, a move that Vingada would not have considered had he arrived earlier. The Portuguese also spoke about how he prefers to keep a compact squad, with young players.
“If I had arrived before and if the decision to loan them was in my hands, I would keep them. Halicharan was playing in the Asian Cup. The decision was made before I arrived.
“One of the replacements was (Baoringdao) Bodo. I had a meeting with Varun (Tripuraneni) and Thangboi (Singto). One place is vacant. I prefer to keep my players, the young boys,” Vingada concluded.