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ISL 2015: In Sachin Tendulkar Kerala Blasters have a huge motivator, says assistant coach

Ishfaq Ahmed's role at Kerala Blasters will not be limited only to the playing but it is going to double up this season of the Indian Super League (ISL) as he is the assistant coach to Peter Taylor.

Abhishek Nandwani | IBNLive.comabhinandwani

Updated:September 28, 2015, 10:12 AM IST
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ISL 2015: In Sachin Tendulkar Kerala Blasters have a huge motivator, says assistant coach
Ishfaq Ahmed's role at Kerala Blasters will not be limited only to the playing but it is going to double up this season of the Indian Super League (ISL) as he is the assistant coach to Peter Taylor.
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Ishfaq Ahmed's role at Kerala Blasters will not be limited only to the playing but it is going to double up this season of the Indian Super League (ISL) as he is the assistant coach to Peter Taylor.

Kerala Blasters finished runners-up last time around and Ishfaq believes they have every chance of lifting the trophy this time around after being unlucky in the finals against Atletico de Kolkata last season.

The Blasters lost 1-0 to Kolkata in the dying moments of the title clash bit Ishfaq says it hasn't hurt the team's morale, which is where it should be. "We have the potential and players to go all the way this season. Players are positive ahead of the season and the dressing room atmosphere is fantastic," the assistant coach told IBNLive.

"The Indian contingent is gelling well with the foreign players and both are helping each other settle in ahead of the new season," Ishfaq said during a telephonic conversation.

The former Pune FC (I-league) midfielder is amongst the players retained by the Kochi-based franchise for the second season and now given the added responsibility.

When asked how are their preparations going ahead of the season that kicks off October 3, he sounded pretty confident and said the pre-season camp went brilliantly and the plan is working fine at the moment. "We are loving every bit of the moment in Trivandrum. Although everyone took time to get used to the food, eventually we have coped with that and enjoying our pre-season training. Everything is going according to the plan and the coaches and players are happy with the proceedings.

"The fitness level is being tested and most of the players are ready for the first game. We we are confident that everyone will be ready before our first game of the tournament," Ishfaq added.

Kerala won just one of their first five matches in the league last season and were expected to be knocked out but the team, co-owned by star Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, fought back and peaked at the right time to make it to the final.

When asked about the influence the legendary batsman has on the team, the midfielder was full of awe and admiration. "It is a huge honour to be around Sachin Tendulkar. He just loves sport and that motivates everyone. He is easily approachable and is ready to share his views.

"Last season, ahead of the final, he was very positive. He said 'just go and enjoy your game and never put yourself under any pressure.' He told us that winning and losing is part of game and that we have to give our 100 per cent out there.

"After we lost the final, he still had a smile on his face and talked to each and every player and consoled them. He is always there to motivate the players and his influence in the dressing room is very very positive," Ishfaq said.

Taylor has been named the manager of the Kerala outfit for the new season. The 62-year-old Taylor, who had coached the England senior team for a match, was at the helm of the England youth team for a long period. He has also coached David Beckham and Ishfaq was all praise for him.

"Some players know him before the ISL, so the understanding is there. He is treating every player the same and his experience will surely help the team in the new season. He's a top-quality coach and we are looking forward to the new season. His man-management is top draw," Ishfaq concluded.

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