Moving to Bengaluru FC helped me: C.K Vineeth

Kerala Blaster's key man C.K Vineeth talked to us about the changes in him which have made him the highest scoring Indian in the ISL - despite playing just five games.

C.K Vineeth has scored four goals in five games for Kerala Blasters.   -  Special Arrangement

C.K. Vineeth must have been a very frustrated player in the Indian Super League last season. Often, he was not sure of his place in the Kerala Blasters team and he was a wing back, a position he was not very comfortable with.

But this season has been a massive change. He has come up with some stunning goals that now virtually sees the Kochi team with one leg in the semifinal and is the man the Blasters frequently looks up to, for goals.

Clearly, the 28-year-old from Kannur did not think that his performance would be so sensational this season especially after missing the Blasters’ first eight games, as he was serving the I-League side Bengaluru FC in the AFC Cup earlier.

“Frankly, I didn’t come with any big expectation this season,” said Vineeth, in a chat with Sportstar on the sidelines of a promo event at the Lulu Marriott here on Thursday.

TOP SCORER WITH FEWER GAMES

Vineeth is now the top Indian goal scorer in the ISL with four goals, along with Delhi Dynamos’ Kean Lewis. But while Lewis’ goals came from 11 games, Vineeth’s has come from just five.

There was a stage early last month when a desperate Steve Coppell said he was looking for players who could explode upfront.

The Blasters was near the bottom of the table then, a familiar territory after its last-place finish last season, and the head coach wanted somebody who could dramatically change things.

And Vineeth happened to be just the sort of man the Englishman was looking for.

“There has been a lot of improvement after I went to Bengaluru FC (which made history by finishing runner-up in the AFC Cup recently), I think my work rate has improved, my confidence too,” said the star from Kannur who had played for Chennai Customs, Viva Kerala, Prayag United earlier.

“Last season, I did not get many games with Blasters. I started three or four games and came in as a substitute in two or three games,” he said after an event with Blasters’ fans from Kerala and Tamil Nadu. “This year, I was able to make use of the chances I got. And this season, I have been playing in attacking positions so that is one reason for getting more goals. And I did not go for too many risks but tried to keep things simple.”

His goals, like the side volley against defending champion Chennaiyin, have been stunning. So, can he smell the goals coming?

“Yes, you can almost feel it…when the ball bounces off someone’s head and comes to you, you get the feeling that it could be a goal. Or when you move to a different position, you do get the feeling that it could bring a goal,” explained the Indian star who produced two goals in a five-minute spell against Chennaiyin.

Vineeth was a late starter, taking up the game only in his 10th standard with coaches like Kozhikode’s Velayudhan (at Kasargod’s Navodaya School), former Santosh Trophy gaffer Bharathan (at SN College) and Bengaluru FC’s Ashley Westwood playing a big role in shaping his career.

He is now a focused man, a player whose next focus is just the crucial December 4 game against NorthEast United.

“That’s the only goal I have now, to see Blasters in the semifinal.”

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