“I think it is impossible to find a better stadium to hold this final. It was a great atmosphere when we played there and this time, I think it will be even better,” the Spaniard said, before flying out with the team from Kolkata on Friday. Atletico de Kolkata will spend the night in Hyderabad before travelling to Kochi early on Saturday.
ATK beat Kerala Blasters 1-0 away early this season, one of their four wins in 14 league games. But when that was mentioned, Molina simply said: “I don’t live in the past. That is not going to help us win on Sunday.”
“It is normal they will support the home team but I hope this will also motivate and encourage our players to try and silence them, stop the sound,” said Molina with just that hint of a smile.
Ahead of what he termed a special match, Molina also stressed on the need to keep doing the things that got ATK this far. “We are where we are because of what we did from the pre-seasons to the end of the 16 matches. And we should do nothing different now in our effort to try to bring the cup to Kolkata,” he said.
Iain Hume, the team’s highest goalscorer with seven strikes, said though there were a lot of doubters “on the outside” at the start of the season, the players themselves were sure of their abilities. “We knew we were good enough to get into the final,” he said.
“I really don’t care if I don’t score and we come with the trophy. Because this is about the team,” said Hume.
The Canada international also agreed with former India skipper Bhaichung Bhutia’s observation that teams have been more defensive this time. “But that made this edition the best of the three, the most competitive. If teams are conceding less, it also means the league has got stronger. And a lot of Indian defenders have stepped up over three years. They are probably playing the best they ever have,” said Hume.
When the conversation turned to the fight after the second-leg of their semi-final against Mumbai City FC, Hume said: “Our guys held their own. We were trying to celebrate and the other team was trying to spoil it. But sometimes, emotions do get a hold on you especially if you have lost. It wasn’t the best to see though. I think in general, we have been gracious in victory.”