ISL 2016: We will lock Sunil Chhetri up, says Kerela Blasters' Vineeth

Updated: Nov 21, 2016, 13:11 IST | Noel D'Souza |

After scripting Kerala Blasters’ turnaround, Vineeth says he will go all out to stop his BFC captain when they take on Mumbai City FC tomorrow 

Sunil Chhetri (right) was Mumbai City FC’s leading  goal-scorer last seasonSunil Chhetri (right) was Mumbai City FC’s leading goal-scorer last season. (Inset) CK Vineeth

Before November 7 this year, Kerala Blasters FC (KBFC) had to be content seeing themselves occupy the penultimate position in the points table of this season’s Indian Super League (ISL). But the very next day began a utopian rise — one that had Kannur-born CK Vineeth written all over it. Vineeth joined his teammates on November 8 after completing a fairytale run at Bengaluru FC (BFC) in the AFC Cup, and immediately made an impact. His three goals, both late winners, from two appearances this season, have elevated the Blasters from the seventh spot to the top four. KBFC now fancy a strong chance of qualifying for the semis.

Blasters next face Mumbai City FC, who also have been reinforced with BFC players like Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh, Amrinder Singh and Lalchhuanmawia Fanai, tomorrow in an away match. The Blasters will be wary of one man and Vineeth too knows him very well.

“Sunil Chhetri, we need to lock him up,” Vineeth said when asked about his major concerns during the match. “He can be really dangerous. I don’t care if he is my BFC captain, on the ground he is in the opposition team. I know his weaknesses so we’ll stop him,” the 28-year-old added.

Vineeth’s arrival surely has given Kerala new-found hope. The wily forward’s burst of speed at the dying end of the match has turned him into a different player and he cannot be ever thankful to BFC.

“It’s all about the mentality and hardwork we as players have to put into the game. Whatever you have, you should finish it off on the ground itself and have the feeling that you are satisfied with what you have done on the ground. Don’t leave anything off it. That’s what BFC has taught me,” he said.

BFC players have instantaneously made an impact in this ISL. So what has BFC done right that other clubs can adopt? “We are like a family in BFC. Sunil is the elder brother and we are his little brothers. The club fulfills all are needs. The management and players are very close. We are provided with whatever we want like good food, our supplements and high tech facilities in the gym.

“Even while training, we use GPS systems and get proper rest too. The club goes on searching for the best practices to train so that we can improve. These are some points other clubs can see,” Vineeth noted.

Although it’s still nascent stages for Indian football to compete with its British counterpart, Vineeth is trying to bring in a BFC culture into the Blasters side. “Work as hard as you can. Instill a hardworking mentality- that’s the success mantra,” he said.

The Blastes’ co-owner Sachin Tendulkar too provides all the motivation the team needs. “Sachin always tells us to enjoy the game and not to care about the result. He tells us to just be happy. When I scored my first goal (this season), he tweeted and now I have to reply,” Vineeth guffawed.

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