JOSE MOLINA, the calculative Spaniard who led an the Atletico de Kolkata side reach the ISL 2016 finals, believes that playing the all-important game in the opponents’ home ground would not be an issue.
The former Spanish international keeper, was especially at his best in the second leg semi-final against Mumbai City where he rested 9 first team players and employed an ultra-defensive strategy to get his team into the final.
The biggest edge Kerala Blasters will have over Atletico is playing in Kochi. In front of a sea of yellow, which has often been their 12th man. But Molina wants the pressure of 60,000 opponent fans to fuel his players to perform better. Speaking to reporters before leaving for Kochi, he said,
“I’ve told my players that there can’t be a better place to play the ISL final. I’ve never seen this kind of madness and passion anywhere else.”
The advantage that have for ATK is that KBFC’s fitness levels. They played 120 minutes in the second leg of the semi-final against Delhi Dynamos, and the four days of rest before Sunday’s final – include a 2,700 kilometer trip down south. They played most of their first-choice players in Delhi, and their bench is a set of players that have hardly been involved in their best performances. They will have tired legs where as the biggest plus for Atletico is however their attack minded players – Iain Hume, Lalrindika Ralte, Helder Postiga and Sameehg Doutie – all of whom were rested during the semifinal second-leg, meaning they will be fresh and raring to go.
So it is safe to say that Molina is well on track to devise a successful strategy to feed off the stadium’s opposing energy on Sunday.