‘Kattimani deserves all the credit’ – Hyderabad FC players react to title win

After winning the Indian Super League title at the PJN Stadium in Goa, Hyderabad FC players have given their thoughts on their victory over Kerala Blasters in the final.

A night to remember for Hyderabad FC goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani, who buried the unpleasant memories of the 2015 ISL final with three penalty saves to help his side win the shootout 3-1 on Sunday night.

“Absolutely. It was a dream for me to win on this pitch and I did it today. I’m happy for the whole team. My brother (Sahil Tavora) scored a great goal which took us to extra time,” Kattimani said in the post-match interview.

Kattimani gave head coach Manuel Marquez credit for the club’s success this season after narrowly missing out on the semi-finals last year to become the current champions.

“Our coach Manuel. He kept us awake every day, asking us to play compact. We did our job and you can see at the end of the season that we are the champions.

In the 88th minute, Tavora’s long shot earned Hyderabad an equalizer after Rahul KP scored for the Blasters in the 68th minute.

“After a long time, the fans were back in the stadium. It was a great atmosphere here. Obviously, Manjapadda is a very vocal group of fans and they are really great fans. Deccan Legion, fans of Hyderabad FC, also put on a great show. My family and friends were there too. So that was a big moment for me. Kattimani deserves all the credit here. We wouldn’t be here without him, all season long,” Tavora said.

“We have a demanding coach and he demands 100% every day and every game. So we know we have to be on it. For example, in the second leg against ATK Mohun Bagan, we didn’t make any our best. He told us that today we had to put on a show and give our best and that’s what we did.

The club decided to stay with Marquez and supported him to lead the club to glory. Striker Joel Chianese felt after the heartbreak of last season it was a deserved reward for everyone at Hyderabad FC.

“Hyderabad FC came very close last year, it was heartbreaking. In the last game we were really pushing and we couldn’t get there. So for everyone to do that this season is just rewarding for everyone. We really deserve to be here and it was an uphill battle tonight,” said Chianese.

Meanwhile, young full-back playing in front of the ISL home crowd, Akash Mishra considered the match as the best moment of his life.

“It’s the best time of my life. It’s the first ISL game I’ve played in front of a crowd. At the start of the game I was a bit nervous but as the game progressed it was like a normal match. In the last one we won the trophy and that’s all that matters,” said Mishra.

Although reliving the moment of winning the title with Mumbai City last season, Bartholomew Ogbeche – who has scored 18 goals this season – praised the Kerala Blasters after a thrilling finish in the final.

“It was a very good match. Kerala Blasters FC are a good opponent but I think we deserve it. Since last year when we couldn’t get to the semi-finals and this year we haven’t couldn’t fight for the Shield because of the Covid-19 situation but in the end we were able to get it signed Ogbeche.