Vineeth: 'There's that hunger to go one step higher'

C. K. Vineeth played for both Bengaluru FC (in the I-League) and the Blasters last year. But, this time, with only the ISL to concentrate on, will his fans see a more focused player?

C. K. Vineeth, in the next ISL, wants himself to be fitter, stronger and better.   -  THE HINDU

There is a new boss in town for Kerala Blasters, there are some big names coming in, and the club's star C. K. Vineeth is hungrier than ever before.

The 29-year-old, the top goal-getter among Indians in the Indian Super League last year, has not met the new Blasters head coach, Rene Meulensteen, but he is doing the little things that will make him smarter.

Vineeth played for both Bengaluru FC (in the I-League) and the Blasters last year. But, this time, with only the ISL to concentrate on, will his fans see a more focused player?

“I don’t know about that, all I know is that I need to see a better Vineeth because last year we entered the ISL final and this year, there is that hunger to go one step higher,” said the Blasters’ Kannur-born star in a chat with Sportstar on the sidelines of the RFYS National football competition’s launch at the Rajagiri Public School here on Wednesday evening.

“And for that you cannot do without getting better. And whatever I am doing now are all towards that goal.”

Longer league

ISL ran for two and half months last year but this time, with two more sides making it a ten-team affair, the event, which is likely to begin in mid-November, will nearly be a four-month affair. So is Vineeth focusing on endurance these days?

“Endurance will not be a problem because earlier, I had the I-league after the ISL. And though the two have different names, in a way, it was a just longer league for me. But now, we will have more ISL matches, which mean more high intensity games and more publicity too.”

With the Blasters training camp yet to start, Vineeth is going to the gym often these days.

Wes Brown in the team

“I felt that my strength was not up to the mark, so I am going to the gym more. When I was young, I did not go to the gym because I did not know much about that. My fitness is not much of an issue now but I feel my strength certainly needs to improve,” explained Vineeth.

With news coming in about the Blasters signing former England and Manchester United defender Wes Brown in the side that includes the very popular Iain Hume, Vineeth feels that the Kochi team is stronger than last year.

“When I look at the names, I certainly feel that the team is stronger than last year. But names alone will not help you. Names don’t matter, it’s all about performance on the ground.”