C. K. Vineeth desperate for rendezvous with Bengaluru FC

The Kerala Blasters midfielder was pained to watch his side’s 3-1 loss to Bengaluru, his former employer, from the sidelines.

C. K. Vineeth believes Kerala Blasters is suffering from its inability of converting chances this season. Photo: H. Vibhu

Kerala Blasters’ C. K. Vineeth was diagnosed with a groin injury before its New Year’s Eve clash with Bengaluru FC that forced him to watch the match from the sidelines. However, suggestions that the midfielder backed out of playing against his former employer gathered steam on social media. He had to take to Twitter to deny those accusations.

It is no secret that Vineeth looks back upon his three-year spell at Bengaluru as one of the most memorable ones in his career. He penned an emotional letter to the Blues and its supporters West Block Blues after his permanent switch to the Blasters in July, 2017.

Rather, Vineeth was hurt more by the fact that he didn’t play any part in the middle as Blasters was overrun 3-1 by BFC, in front of his own fans in Kochi.

"I didn’t play against BFC in Kochi because I was injured. It wasn’t easy for me to watch the match from the stands," Vineeth told Sportstar. And he has only one thing on his mind when reminded of the return fixture at the Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on March 1. "I wanted to be on the ground when they were scoring goals and when we were missing chances to score the goals. And now I am waiting to go back to Bangalore in March. I want to play against them badly, very badly."

Shooting blanks

Until its 3-1 win over Delhi Dynamos, Blasters had an average of less than a goal per game from its eight matches played. The strike force, including Vineeth, Dimitar Berbatov, Iain Hume and Mark Sifneos have not played in tandem yet this season, either due to injury or through suspension. After a tepid start to the season, the club rid itself of the services of Dutch coach Rene Muelensteen at the turn of the New Year.

“I think we have been missing chances, that’s what has happened. We aren’t converting the chances that we have created. The conversion rate is less that’s why we are lacking goals,” said the Kerala midfielder. The Blasters’ conversion rate stands at 13.51 in nine games, below the likes of Bengaluru, Chennaiyin FC, FC Goa, Pune City FC and Mumbai City FC.

It is no secret that Vineeth looks back upon his three-year spell at Bengaluru as one of the most memorable ones in his career.   -  K. Murali Kumar

 

With the arrival of David James, its player-cum-coach from the 2014 season, the idea of a play-off spot may not be out of reach for the Kerala side, according to Vineeth. “We have almost 10 games (nine after the win over Delhi) left now and if we start scoring goals it won’t be tough to reach the fourth spot,” he said.

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The 2016 finalist made the headline signings before the start of the season with former Manchester United duo Berbatov and Wes Brown. Although they are at the fag end of their careers, they have plenty to offer to the Indian players. “They are the biggest names in the league right now – Berbatov and Brown. They have played in the Champions League and won it (Brown in 1999 and 2008). Berbatov was the Bulgarian player of the year on seven different occasions. He has huge experience.

“He won’t be talking too much but when we are making mistakes on the ground, he is the first one to point out and say, ‘You need to do that. You need to do it this way.’ I am learning a lot from him,” said Vineeth.

Telepathic partnership with Anto

Vineeth feels his friendship with Rino Anto helps him perform better on the field.

“If you watch our matches, I know what he is going to do when he is with the ball or without the ball. When I have the ball, I know where he is going to be in the next moment. I have already scored this season from his cross (against NorthEast United) and we are trying to score more,” he said.

Anto hails from Thrissur, Kerala and has shared the dressing room with Vineeth since 2014 with Bengaluru in the I-League and Blasters in the Indian Super League.

Vineeth has two goals to his name this season, including the last-gasp equaliser away to fierce rival Chennaiyin FC. The seven-cap India international adds that more is yet to come from his boots before the end of the season. “First and foremost I want to help us to reach the final again. Last year, I scored five goals. I want to score more than that and make few more goals to help the team reach the final or go one step further than last year,” he outlined.

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