'Where are the chants?' - Manjappada's challenge is getting their large number of supporters on the same page

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ISL Media
The Kerala Blasters fan-group is waging a virtual war against the supporters of Bengaluru FC but it is not going to be easy on the field...


GOAL BY NISANTH V EASWAR    Follow @Niktheblue94 on Twitter


 

It was the final of the third edition of the Indian Super League and for Kerala Blasters, the prospect of facing rivals ATK in the final hurdle was proving to be daunting. It was because they were the same opposition that chucked Blasters out the last time they made it so far.

The Yellow Army took to the field and tried their best to win the trophy but the massive Kochi crowd failed to fulfil their potential.

It would be extremely unfair to say that the supporters did not cheer their team on properly. But for each time the fans erupted in joy when their team attacked, there were as many if not more dull moments throughout the game when the supporters remained eerily silent. When you have more than 40,000 supporters inside the stadium, it should never be pin-drop silent!

The hardworking members of the group came up with chants and to make it easier for people to keep up with the updates, they even launched a Manjappada app. But as we soon found out following a goalless draw between Blasters and ATK in Kochi on the opening day of ISL 4, developing a fan culture similar to what Bengaluru FC have is not going to be easy.

Bengaluru FC beat Mumbai City 2-0 on Sunday and their fan group, known as West Block Blues, were in full voice throughout the match. They were organized and kept chanting in support of their team.

Following Kerala's game, Manjappada took to social media to show that they, in fact, did attempt to chant. But it wasn't picked up by the rest of the lot who came to watch the game. The players acknowledged the group's support but there were long periods of silence throughout the ninety minutes. The numbers don't matter if you can't support the team when they are down, on and off the field. 

The official attendance figure in Bengaluru was 17,796 compared to Kochi 's 37,462. The much bigger attendance in Kochi means it is more difficult to organize and put those numbers to efficient use. The majority of the crowd prefers to sing 'Sachiiiin...Sachiiin' or 'Blasters...Blasters!', keeps attempting Mexican waves which are incomplete more often than not and turns their camera flashlights on and waves them in the air. Sure, it is interesting at first but three years of the same thing over and over again does not help Manjappada's cause.

Not everyone who attends the match is a Manjappada member or even a Kerala Blasters supporter, but those who are, need to make it a point to follow what the group members are doing. Only then will they achieve synchronization leading to a delightful stadium experience. If you are a 'silent' Kerala Blasters supporter inside the stadium, you need to realize that there are hundreds of other supporters who would have happily paid twice the cash you paid for your ticket just to get the chance to attend the game. If you are looking for a peaceful setting to enjoy the game, Kochi stadium is the wrong place for you.

The banter between the supporters of Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters is welcome as long as it doesn't go off-topic. The former have played their cards well and the latter seems to have taken the bait.

Manjappada have the numbers but West Block Blues are more organized. They will be the better supporters only when they manage to organize the numbers and make themselves heard inside the stadium. When things aren't going well for Dimitar Berbatov and co., their names should vibrate around the stadium. When they are 2-0 down, fans need to try and lift the spirit of the players. Supporters aren't mere viewers of the beautiful game, they have a role to play inside the stadium. 

 

 

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Speaking after Bengaluru's win, Sunil Chhetri termed the club's fans as 'the best in the country' and he is not off the mark with his assessment. West Block Blues turn out in numbers even when Indian National team is playing at home. They travelled all the way to Trivandrum in Kerala, when India took on Afghanistan and clinched the SAFF Cup in 2015. Their dedication needs to be given credit and is something that Manjappada can model as they try to better the fan culture in the city.

Manjappada's potential is massive and if they manage to fulfil that, the stage will be truly set for New Year's Eve when Kerala Blasters play Bengaluru FC in Kochi. That will be the first true battle of two of the most hard-core fan groups in the country.

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