CK Vineeth has fired Kerala Blasters’ campaign in the Hero Indian Super League with five goals in just six matches, taking them from bottom to second behind Mumbai City FC. Even though he is the leading Indian goal-scorer at the moment, Vineeth admits in this interview that he is still not at his best and explains why it is imperative for Kerala Blasters to emerge champions.
It’s been a dream run for you in the ISL with five goals and three assists in six games. Did you expect such a start for you this season?
Honestly, I didn’t. I came here to help the team make it to the semi-finals and I really didn’t believe I could do something like this. All that I and my teammates want now is to qualify for final and win the Cup, if we can.
You joined Blasters from Bengaluru FC after the eighth game. How difficult was it for you to adjust to the team’s requirements?
I knew it would be difficult to adjust but everyone was helpful and made me comfortable. The (late) goal against FC Goa, which turned out to be the match winner, helped boost my confidence. It was my first game for Blasters this season and it helped me do even better in the next game. Since then my confidence has been on the rise.
With such a rich vein of form, are you playing your best football?
Right now I am not playing well. I am only getting the goals. I am not really playing good (football) at the moment. That’s all I can say about this.
Will the goals be enough for you to get a National call-up?
I don’t know. I am not thinking about all that and focusing only on the game. I think if I continue to play well, they will call me definitely. I just need to prove that I can play for the national team. The rest will follow.
Is there added pressure on Kerala Blasters to atleast make it to the final because Kochi will be hosting the League’s final?
It goes without saying that we need to win the ISL for our fans because they are the best. We must deliver that trophy to our fans. But there is no pressure. We just play our (normal) game. Our fans come to the stadium to enjoy every match, enjoy every single moment and I think they are enjoying right now.
How much does the crowd support play a role in Kerala’s home games?
I cannot express (in words) how we feel when we play in front of this amazing Kerala crowd. They are truly amazing; we can’t even hear what the players say on the field, or when the referee has blown the whistle. The noise is too much and it’s absolutely electrifying.
Before the last League game, you were fighting tears while talking about the fan support. Did that emotional aspect help you put that extra effort?
It’s always like that. This is my home crowd and the best in the ISL. Not just me, everybody thinks that. I have always wanted to play in front of my home fans and I feel happy to play here. It gives me an extra boost whenever I feel I am not up to the mark with my performances.
How is Steve Coppell as coach? He seems to have given you a free role to express yourself on the pitch.
He is the coolest coach I have worked with. Coolest means, he doesn’t get angry or doesn’t say anything in anger. He always tell us to just go out there and enjoy the game. His advice is to just be happy and if you make a mistake, forget it. Even when we come back to dressing room for half time, he never loses his cool and asks us to look forward to the next 45 minutes. He reminds us that fans are watching all of us, so we must show them all that we have. In my time at Kerala Blasters, I never saw him angry. I don’t know if he is always like that.