KOCHI: Kerala Blasters ended a four-year wait to record a victory in Kolkata in the Indian Super League as they thrashed a hapless ATK 2-0 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Saturday. And one man who was instrumental in the win was the Kochi club’s newly-acquired striker Slavisa Stojanovic.
The Serbian attacker played a part in Blasters’ opening goal as his deflected effort was headed in by his Slovenian strike partner Matej Poplatnik in the 77th minute before Stojanovic announced his own entry into Indian football with a curling right-footer into the top corner that sealed all three points for the visitors 10 minutes later.
Joining the Yellow Army from FK Radnicki Nis in the Serbian SuperLiga where he scored nine times in 31 league games, Stojanovic brings with him a proven attacking threat that could terrorise ISL defences in the months to come. And he is hoping to bring what will be Blasters’ maiden ISL title to the fans — the main reason why he chose to play for the Kerala outfit.
“After the season in Serbia, my agent came up to me with an offer from India. I went on the internet to google Kerala Blasters and ISL and decided to accept the proposal seeing the kind of support and atmosphere in Kerala,” said the 29-year-old who admits he had little idea about Indian football before signing on the dotted lines for Blasters.
“I knew from the pictures of the fans that I was signing for one of the bigger clubs in India and Asia. The experience with them has been great so far and I can’t wait to play in front of them,” said Stojanovic who is now eager to build on the good start on his first home game here against Mumbai City FC on Friday. Starting his career at FK Smederevo 1924 in the former Yugoslavian city of Smederevo, Stojanovic has spent most of his career at his home country and only had a spell in Isreal with Hapoel Petah Tikva FC and Hapoel Kfar Saba FC in 2016-17 before heading for his latest adventure in the Indian subcontinent.
“Israel was a bit of Asia and Europe, but coming to India has been a different experience so far,” said Stojanovic who can play on the left wing as well as a central striker.
“I had problems adjusting to the weather, especially the air as I had difficulties with breathing during training sessions for the first week or so. But now it’s alright,” he told Express.
After more than three months with the club, he is impressed with his teammates.
“Indian footballers are different because they are more committed, especially the youngsters. They might not be technically as good as the Europeans or the South Americans, but they are always looking to improve themselves.” said the Serbian.