James plans an ISL approach for pre-season tourney

Kerala Blasters coach David James is keen to adopt the ISL approach of five foreign players in the starting XI in his side's pre-season matches against Melbourne City FC and Girona FC.

Kerala Blasters head coach, David James, in Kochi on Saturday.   -  Stan Rayan

With the Indian Super League some three months away, this may be an awkward time to play a pre-season event but Kerala Blasters head coach David James sees the three-team Toyota Yaris La Liga World football tournament, which begins at the Nehru Stadium here on Tuesday evening, as an interesting test.

“Melbourne City FC has brought some very experienced A-League players and there are also players who are very young. There is not much footage on them, I'm sure they are capable too. So, preparation becomes slightly more difficult,” said James, a few hours after arriving in Kochi from Ahmedabad, at the Lulu Marriott here on Saturday evening.

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“It’s an interesting test since Spain’s Girona FC comes with the La Liga experience. We want to win games, want to win both but we have to be realistic too. If they are the best of their game, we have to be at least at the best or close to that,” he continued.

James’ boys will open their campaign in the inter-continental pre-season tournament against Melbourne and though the event may not have very strict rules, the former England World Cupper is keen to go for an ISL-type approach.

The ISL has a five foreign players rule…will he adopt the same strategy for this event?
“I haven’t even thought about it. I would rather adopt an ISL approach,” said the former England goalkeeper. “They are going to treat our game differently from the way they treat their games back home. So, it’s a wonderful opportunity for us but we have to do our own preparation in an ISL way.

“These two games are very different for different reasons and winning the trophy would be a major achievement in one sense,” he noted.

No marquee names in the side
With five Indian national team stars, including Anas Edathodika and Halicharan Narzary in the team, James made it clear that the focus should be on the team rather than a particular player. This could mean that Blasters may not have a marquee name this season.

“I think our strength will be our team rather than an individual. There is some stuff on social media asking when we will have our marquee signing. I think the ISL, especially the Blasters, are going to go away from that approach,” he said.

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“We don’t want one player carrying the rest of the team, we'd rather have the team carrying the players. When you look at players like Anas and Narzary, who are regular internationals, coming into our squad, they are marquee players themselves.

“I’m done with having one individual who wants to stand out just because he has been signed that way. We are not keen on having individuals who are coming for what they had done and not for what they are expected to do to the side,” added James.

The Blasters coach said that he has got one foreigner slot still vacant but that he is not in a hurry to do that. “I’m comfortable that way,” he said.

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