ISL 2018-19: C. K. Vineeth hemmed in by expectant fans

Tired of the abuses hurled by Kerala Blasters fans, the hardworking midfielder hints he is contemplating a change of teams next season.

Frustrating battle: Kerala Blasters’ C. K. Vineeth (left) is known to excite and to exasperate.   -  AP

When C. K. Vineeth scored a late equaliser against Jamshedpur FC, he became Kerala Blasters’ all-time highest goal-scorer in the Indian Super League (ISL). Vineeth’s 85th minute strike was his 11th goal for Blasters; he had nosed ahead of Canadian Iain Hume, who had scored 10 goals for the side.

The hard-working midfielder, playing his third season for Blasters, was one of the few players retained by the side for this season. He did not have the best of starts in the current season, however; the 30-year-old came on as substitute in the first three matches and struggled to make an impact.

But coach David James, impressed with his work ethic in the practice sessions, decided to field Vineeth in the starting XI against Delhi Dynamos in Kochi for Blasters’ second home match. Vineeth reposed the coach’s faith with an opportunistic strike early in the second half; in the next match against Jamshedpur, he salvaged a point with another late strike.

Exciting, exasperating

The equaliser against Jamshedpur was a typical strike from Vineeth; he seized the chance that came his way. But Vineeth can excite as well as exasperate his fans by missing the easiest of chances. Against Bengaluru in Kochi last week, he had the chance to close out the match in the second half but with the goalkeeper at his mercy, the opportunity was missed much to the chagrin of Blasters supporters.

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Vineeth, not blessed with all-round skills, plays within his limitations and has the knack of scoring goals at improbable moments. But when things don’t go his way, Vineeth remains largely anonymous on the field and is a liability.

‘Abusive fans’

Whenever he had a lacklustre outing, Blasters fans bombarded his Facebook page with the unkindest of comments — including insults on him and his family. Tired, Vineeth has hinted that he had enough and that he was contemplating a change of teams next season.

Talking about the pressures of playing in front of demanding fans on eve of his side’s match against Bengaluru FC, he said, “Diehard fans will remain with the team [through] thick and thin. And if I am a Manchester United fan and even when they play badly, I support them. But here the fans are abusive and blame me for everything. I admit I have missed more chances than I have scored and I am aware of it. But it happens in football. Genuine fans will understand the pressures of [the] modern game but I think the fans supporting Kerala Blasters are not real,” he said.

With Blasters campaign hitting a trough in the league, the pressure on Vineeth is likely to mount in the coming days.

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