ISL 2017: Teddy Sheringham heaps praise on Hitesh Sharma
Both the managers were in awe of the Kerala Blasters fans
The fans had expected a high-profile match for the Inaugural match of ISL 2017 when the Kerala Blasters took on ATK at Kochi. A houseful crowd witnessed a star-studded inaugural ceremony and were eagerly waiting for the match. But to their disappointment, except for a few exciting moves from both teams, the match ended a 0-0 draw.
After the game, Kerala Blasters coach René Meulensteen said that it was a good game for both the teams. Rene was impressed by the magnificent inauguration ceremony and the excitement of the crowd. He seemed satisfied with the fact that his team had kept the clean sheet.
When asked about the performance of star strikers Dimitar Berbatov and Iain Hume, Meulensteen said, "We had created some good chances but failed to convert it. It is still early days for the team. The players needed to know how to play with each other on the pitch."
He also opined that the condition may have affected the result of the match. He said, "The conditions on the training pitch and the game on the ground are different. Here, it is more hot and humid, which is a difficult condition for players to play."
Kerala's star striker Iain Hume, on the other hand, believed that although both the teams played well, neither wanted to lose the match, which is why it ended with a 0-0 result.
"The two teams didn't want to lose the match and gave a tough fight. Even though ATK had better possession, we played equally well."
ATK manager Teddy Sheringham also showed some concern for the weather conditions in Kochi.
"It was difficult to play in such a hot and humid climate, but the players gave all their effort for the game," he said.
Sheringham had a few special praises in store for young midfielder Hitesh Sharma. He said, "Hitesh was very good in today's game. He had a very good positional sense, and he would be a star when he reaches 25."
The former Manchester United man further went on to laud the ATK defence for keeping the likes of Berbatov and Hume quiet on the night.
"Berbatov has still got the quality, and a small mistake from the defence could bring out the quality in him," said Sheringham.
ATK have a difficult start to the season ahead of them, with a number of their players sitting out due to injuries. However, Sheringham was hopeful, when he said that defender Ashutosh Mehta is set to return next week. Winger Jayesh Rane is also set to join the squad soon after further assessment.