Fans give tumultuous welcome to victorious Atletico de Kolkata

ISL champs Atletico de Kolkata arrive in City of Joy to rousing welcome

Kolkata: Amid spraying of champagne, thousands of fans turned out on the streets and in a mall to accord a tumultuous welcome to the players of the inaugural Indian Super League (ISL) champions Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) who arrived here with the trophy yesterday.

Atletico De Kolkata co-owner Sourav Ganguly poses with the ISL Trophy with his team player Fikru Lemessa
Dada's Big Cup: Atletico De Kolkata co-owner Sourav Ganguly poses with the ISL Trophy with his team player Fikru Lemessa during a felicitation in Kolkata yesterday. Pic/PTI.

ATK clinched a 1-0 win over Kerala Blasters FC at Mumbai’s DY Patil Stadium on Saturday night. An elated team management announced that each of the footballers would be given $15,000 (Rs 9.50 lakh) as a special bonus for
their feat.

Rafique misses flight
The team, scheduled to arrive around noon, reached the NSCBI Airport here one and half hour late without several players including the only scorer of the final Mohammad Rafique, who had missed the flight from Mumbai.

Emotive and euphoric fans showered petals, garlanded the players and smeared them with colours as the players trooped out of the domestic terminal carrying aloft the trophy.

“It is an extraordinary win. It is the first edition of the tournament and Kolkata have won. What more could we have asked for,” said ATK co-owner and former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly.

Asked to compare between the NatWest Trophy which the Indians won at Lord’s in 2002 and the ISL triumph, Ganguly replied: “Both are great victories. No doubt there were many people at the Lord’s but here Kolkata have won the first title. I’m extremely happy.”

Brimming with confidence at his team’s success, Ganguly said, “This is just the beginning. We will win many trophies in future. I’m very happy for Kolkata, we will make a stronger team next year.”

As supporters, displayed posters saying ‘Fatafati Football’, players Fikru Teferra Lemessa, skipper Luis Garcia and coach Antonio Habas held the glittering trophy and also posed with it.

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