KOCHI: Drunk high on expectation, Manjappada, the loyal and fervent fans of Kerala Blasters, had painted Kochi yellow much before the ISL final against Hyderabad FC started. But in the end, the 20,000-odd fans who gathered for the special screening arranged at the fan park on Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium premises in Kaloor -- the home of the yellow brigade -- were in tears after their team went down fighting in the penalty shootout.
The crowd of men, women and children were expecting to see their team lift its maiden ISL trophy after the extra time. “Yes we are hurt. We were waiting to see our Kombans (the tuskers) lift the cup. However, we will not blame our team. It proved its mettle. We will come back stronger next season. Let’s be optimistic,” said Shyam T S from Varappuzha.
“I think our team missed the home atmosphere. If it had played the final in Kochi, it would have won. Can’t you see how we have gathered here and cheered for it? Anyway, this is the third unsuccessful final for us, which is a disappointing statistic for a team like Blasters, having such a huge fan base,” said Aajal Thomson, a student who came to the fan park from Aluva.
Meanwhile, hotels and eateries around the stadium did brisk business on Sunday. “It is for the first time after the Covid outbreak that we registered such good business,” said Ameer, a shopkeeper. Streetside vendors, especially those who sold jerseys, also made a killing, despite the Blasters’ loss. “There was a huge demand for blue jersey because Blasters played in blue on Sunday,” said Aashiq, a seller.