Two late goals against ATK got Kerala Blasters' (KBFC) Indian Super League (ISL) campaign off to a winning start, with goals coming from the strike duo of Matej Poplatnik and Slavisa Stojanovic. It was the Blasters' first win against ATK in nine encounters and its first ever win in Kolkata.
Here are the major talking points from the opening ISL match of the fifth season —
1. The spectators in Kolkata have the habit of turning up in good numbers whenever the occasion is football. The city's connection with ISL has been quite intense, too, considering that the side has won two titles in four seasons.
ATK had become quite used to playing in front of a sizeable crowd but ever since its performance dipped last season, the turnout started dwindling - getting reduced to couple of thousands from around 50,000 at the beginning of the season.
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The opening game of the tournament saw 41,202 people fill the stands, arguably a low turnout in the opening game of the season - suggesting that the city is yet to fully regain the confidence in its club.
2. Halicharan Narzary, the Indian international from Assam, played an important role in KBFC's win. Put in as a winger by coach David James, Narzary combined well with Poplatnik and Stojanovicto secured the win for the visitor.
3. David James proved that he is lucky for KBFC having previously masterminded their only win against ATK in the inaugural season in 2014 at home. James, after returning to the helm in January this year, is setting his sights on leading the Blasters to their first ISL title.
4. Man of the match Matej Poplatnik impressed from the very start with his sense of position and timing. The opportunistic striker from Slovenia was right at the end of any chance and gave the ATK defenders a really hard time all through the action.