Fans join the triumphant ATK in celebrations

Atletico de Kolkata, which lifted the ISL title for the second time in three seasons, came home to a big welcome which was organised here at a popular shopping mall on Monday.

The mall reverberated with cheers as Iain Hume, the Canadian striker who top-scored for the team, lifted the trophy.   -  pti

Atletico de Kolkata, which lifted the > ISL title for the second time in three seasons , came home to a big welcome which was organised here at a popular shopping mall on Monday.

Received at the airport by flag-waiving fans, the team bus took the players to the celebration venue which was packed with around 3,000 fans, who cheered loudly with the team song playing in the background. The players soon joined the merriment and the huge lobby of the mall reverberated with cheers as Iain Hume, the Canadian striker who top-scored for the team, lifted the trophy.

Jose Molina, who took the team to the summit of success in his very first coaching assignment in ISL, thanked the fans for the support. “Thank you very much, Kolkata,” Molina’s words drowned in loud cheers as the fans got busy taking pictures of and selfies with the winning team.

Some who missed the celebration included the Portuguese World Cupper and the team’s marquee player, Helder Postiga, while his compatriot and defender Henrique Sereno, South African midfielder Sameegh Doutie, Botswana defender Ofentse Nato also stayed away from the celebrations.

Rest of the foreigners and Indian players (except the injured Arnab Mondal) were present in the ceremonious homecoming of glittering trophy. Captain and the most consistent performer of the team, Spaniard Borja Fernandez, and the Scotsman Stephen Pearson were tossed up in the air by their team-mates as the fans went wild.

“We now have two stars on our shirts,” a visibly ecstatic Hume said referring to the two titles the team had won. The Canadian had ended up on the losing side in the first season (2014) when he saw ATK winning the inaugural title beating Kerala Blasters in Mumbai. The celebrations continued for a long time as the winners were joined by the principal owner of the team Sanjiv Goenka and his family.

Molina, who was appreciated in the team for his composure and minimal interference, said the players volunteered to take the shots when the penalty shootout was enforced after the match remained unresolved after 120 minutes. “After the extra-time we came together for a while and I told the players to keep calm and have confidence in themselves,” Molina said about the decisive moments of the final.

“They (the players) volunteered to take penalties themselves and I just kept faith in them,” Molina said adding that he did not panic when Hume missed the first attempt in the tie-breaker. “I knew there were four more penalties to be taken,” he said.

  Dugout videos