ISL: Luis Garcia lauds Mohammed Rafique for final heroics
Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) skipper Luis Garcia credited young Indian striker Mohammed Rafique and custodian Edel Bete for the team becoming the inaugural Indian Super League champions after a win over Kerala Blasters in the summit clash here.
Mumbai: Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) skipper Luis Garcia credited young Indian striker Mohammed Rafique and custodian Edel Bete for the team becoming the inaugural Indian Super League champions after a win over Kerala Blasters in the summit clash here.
"It was unbelievable (Bete's save in 83rd minute). The team worked so hard but that save and Rafique's goal was worth an award," the Spanish player said.
Garcia missed out playing in the final and said it was disappointing not to be a part of the playing XI but said the team deserved to win the final for its hard work.
"I was very disappointed. At the end, this is the kind of game a player wants to play. When I arrived here, all the people during the whole season, we've been working so hard. All the 30 players have been working from the start in Madrid. We know that even when we don't play or don't have chances in games sometimes, for our hard work we deserve this trophy," he said.
The Spaniard said it reminded him of Liverpool's Champions League final at Istanbul in 2005. "It kind of (was like the 2005 Champions League win in 2005). It was a final. It was important for us as we were working hard for the last three months. To arrive here after struggling in the middle of the competition was very important and we got the trophy," he said.
ATK's marquee player believed the winning goal from Mohammed Rafique has proved that new league to a certain extent has managed to achieve it's targets of an Indian players showing their potential at a big stage.
"In the first conference in Kolkata we said that this ISL is not just a competition for the marquee players or for international players. We came here to help football grow in India. What we were looking for was these kinds of things, for Indian players to come out and show their potential because there is potential in India," the former Liverpool midfielder said.
Atletico de Kolkata coach Antonio Habas agreed with Garcia and said, "I think the youth in India have huge potential but needs to improve a lot at the base in youth academies."
Asked why Garcia didn't make it to the starting-line up, the former Bolivian coach said, "Luis has a problem with his hamstring. He is our marquee player but not only important with what he did on the field but also with what he did with the other players. We like to thank Rafique, we know he hasn't had many games in the season but he waited for his moment and today he is a hero."