The sense of deja vu was unmistakable when Atletico de Kolkata arrived at a plush mall in Kolkata to take stage at exactly the same point where they had held aloft the Indian Super League (ISL) trophy two years back.
Kolkata won’t easily forget 2014, the year both the IPL and ISL trophies came home. This year, Kolkata Knight Riders fell two steps short but with ATK winning the ISL the second time in three years, the city had at least one reason to cheer.
The frenzy was less compared to 2014 but still two thousand people showed up to welcome Atletico de Kolkata on a Monday evening. Players like Helder Postiga, Sameehg Doutee and Ofentse Nato had already left for their countries but fans had their way when they successfully pleaded Iain Hume to take the mike. “We did it. We didn’t make it easy for us but from first game to last we fought tooth and nail. We now have two stars on our shirts,” said Hume.
“Jitbe ke? ATK! (Who will win? ATK),” screamed Jewel Raja, whose penalty kick gave ATK their second ISL win. ATK coach Jose Molina said he didn’t panic when Hume missed the first penalty. “I knew there were four more penalties to take so nothing to worry,” he said.
Such has been Molina’s significance in this victory, ATK principal owner Sanjiv Goenka didn’t forget to thank him first. “Thank you for being with us. Three cheers for the coach, three cheers for the team. We hope and pray you continue to support us like this next year,” said Goenka.
Molina declined to comment on whether he would come back next season. “Now it’s time to enjoy and celebrate. About the future, we will decide later,” he said. Goenka however repeated his stance against the supposed league merger, saying one team should represent Kolkata in the ISL.
“Every city has one team then why should Kolkata have two teams?,” said Goenka. Asked if he is wary of losing support if East Bengal and Mohun Bagan come in the fray, Goenka said “I don’t have any fear. What will happen if two teams from Kolkata get to the final or one team makes it? Today Kolkata has won. The feeling won’t be the same.”