When the realisation of completing a hat-trick kicked in, Iain Hume picked up the ball from the net, gave it a kiss and held it high for fans to admire.
And when the final whistle sounded, the Canadian walked off the pitch with the match ball under his arm.
Hume will remember the goals against Mumbai City FC every time he sees that ball.
The Atletico de Kolkata striker, whom coach Antonio Habas described as a “bomb”, would do his side a favour by sharing the ball with teammates Amrinder Singh and Jaime Gavilan, the goalkeeper and playmaker, whose efforts made it possible for the striker to enjoy a hat-trick.
Increase in fan following
Hume, who was popular with Kerala Blasters supporters last season for his goals and commitment, has increased his fan following in Mumbai and the Kolkata crowds are bound to go crazy over him this season.
Habas’s confidence in the forward is already paying off. Hume played withdrawn when Portuguese ace Helder Postiga was available and injury to the latter has forced a promotion for the hard-working Canadian.
Asked to describe Hume’s effort, theATK coach said “we have maximum confidence in him as a striker. He can also play in various positions on the flanks and is a playmaker. “Someday I will give him an opportunity to play as a defender because he has tremendous energy.”
Hume, who had a defender keeping a watch on him, also fell back deep into his own half to help out midfielders and was in position for passes out of defence.
Amrinder started out as a striker in his junior days before switching to goalkeeping on coach Yarwinder Singh’s advice at Punjab’s Sports Wing Academy.
Hence the India under-23 player knows what goes on in a forward’s mind and reacts accordingly.
He smothered Nicolas Anelka after boldly charging out. The French World Cupper was poised to lob over the goalkeeper into an empty net but came to a halt as Amrinder went down on contact with the forward’s leg.
Fred Piquionne saw a right-footed shot on the turn, hit from around the penalty spot, blocked by Amrinder.
The ATK goalkeeper then stopped a Sunil Chetri crack at target but the ball rolled sideways for Selim Benachour to squeeze in a shot between the post and Amrinder.
Habas later remarked “the whole team was fantastic, from goalkeeper to strikers.”
Talking about the situation following Postiga’s long absence, Habas remarked “I don’t have a magical player in the squad.
“I have to show confidence in my existing players and thus I give them chances, like with Hume. He was (like) a bomb.”
La Liga midfielder and Spanish youth international Gavilan, who has the quality to deliver a killer pass and send strikers like Hume on a goal hunt, was an unsung hero on Sunday night.
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