Kochi: As Kerala Blasters are getting ready to go into the tenth edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) with a new-look squad, Croatian defender Marko Leskovic believes the three-time runners-up have the talent and fighting spirit to give their fancied opponents a run for their money.
The 32-year-old Leskovic is one of the three foreigners retained by Blasters. Midfield general Adrian Luna and striker Dimitrios Diamantakos are the other two.
The 6-foot-2-inch tall Leskovic has played an integral role at the heart of the Yellow Brigade's defence in the previous two editions of the glitzy league. As Blasters have parted ways with defenders Jessel Carneiro and Harmanjot Khabra, Leskovic will once again be the pillar of strength in their backline.
Leskovic, who has played for Croatia's youth and senior sides, speaks of the new challenge and the team's preparations for the upcoming edition starting on September 21.
How do you feel about the new-look Blasters's defence which will feature Montenegrin Milos Drincic and India international Pritam Kotal?
New players bring fresh energy and new ideas to the team. Both these players come with the vast experience of playing at international and club levels for years.
Several key players from Season 9 have left the club. How will it impact the team cohesion?
It is part and parcel of club football. Players would move from one club to another and new ones would replace them. It is a natural process. Blasters have roped in many new players for the upcoming season, and I believe all of them are extremely talented.
How do you motivate the youngsters in the team?
We have many talented young players in our ranks. It will immensely benefit the club in the long run. It is important to have players who are hungrier and eager to showcase their talent. One can discern their passion to unlock their full potential at training sessions and competitive matches. I don't think they need any kind of motivation to succeed at the highest level.
Are you satisfied with the team's preparations for the new season?
I'm content with how things have gone so far. Currently, we are preparing for the pre-season matches in the UAE. We will be facing some tough opponents during the UAE camp. I think these friendly matches will give us the confidence to start off the season on a positive note.