David James is confident that Kerala Blasters will put up a better performance in the new edition of the ISL, which kicks off on September 29. The Kochi-based side had finished sixth last year.
But, he had joined the team only midway through the league. “Last year was tough because we ran out of matches, as I reached Kochi only in January, but with all the preparation, I am excited about our first game (against ATK in Kolkata),” James told Sportstar in an email interview from Thailand, where the team is training.
The former England goalkeeper is aiming high. “Like every team, we want to be the ISL champions, and to be the first Kerala Blasters team to win the prestigious title,” he said. “I am also excited about the new signings, such as Matej Poplatnik and Slavisa Stojanovic.”
Looking back at the training the team has had thus far, James said playing in the La Liga tournament in Kochi a few weeks ago was beneficial, despite the two heavy losses. “Having Girona from Spain's La Liga and Melbourne City from Australia's A League was fantastic for the club and fans alike,” he said. “Ultimately, you plan to get the best tests for the best results, come the ISL. We have gained so much from playing sides from different continents, not just in playing styles, but quality levels too.”
James said he had been a Blasters fan from the opening season of the ISL, when he stood under the bar. And that was why he decided to return.
“I had a feeling, or a want to come back and manage the club, without the playing responsibility,” he said. “The club explained their desires and the aforementioned staff were on exactly the same wavelength, so it made perfect sense.”
But he knows the Blasters would have to play under rather different circumstances in Kochi this season, with Kerala going through its worst period in history in the wake of the devastating floods last month that claimed nearly 500 lives and displaced a million.
“The club, along with our 12th man, with so many people, combined their efforts in helping people in desperate need,”said James. “This will not be forgotten and will be reflected in a show of thanks and support. We have members of the staff directly affected by the events of rains and floods, so we all share a common goal in helping the rebuilding process.”
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