Terry Phelan: 'Blasters can finish among top four'

Irish coach Terry Phelan, who currently heads Kerala Blasters' grassroots program, is confident that the team will make it to the top four in ISL (Indian Super League).

Terry Phelan Kerala Blasters Indian Super League

Kerala Blasters' Terry Phelan believes the presence of English forward Antonio German and Spanish midfielder Josu Prieto would stand the team in good stead.   -  H. Vibhu

He was taken out of the grassroots academy and handed the reins of Kerala Blasters midway through last season after the team’s wretched run in the Indian Super League (ISL).

There were some initial highs under Terry Phelan, but the Irishman could not stop the Blasters from sinking to the bottom of the table.

Now, as the Blasters get ready for next month’s ISL with a new head coach in Steve Coppell and a few new signings, Phelan believes the team has all the potential to finish among the top four.

“It’s going to take people time to settle in but I’m a big believer that they will finish within the top four,” said Phelan at the Nehru Stadium here on Tuesday. “If they do, it will be wonderful and then, why can’t they go and win it, it will be fantastic.”

Phelan feels the team will be under pressure but believes the presence of English forward Antonio German and Spanish midfielder Josu Prieto would stand the team in good stead.

“The pressure is always going to be on Blasters, we get 70,000 fans which is absolutely brilliant. Similarly, the new boys wouldn’t have seen a crowd like they are going to see on October 5,” said the 49-year-old, now the Technical Director of Kochi-based Prodigy Football Academy which is a part of Kerala Blasters’ grassroots partner Prodigy Sportz.

“But players like Antonio and Josu, they know what it is all about. They bring continuity and they were absolutely brilliant last year and I’m sure they are going to be brilliant now.”

Jersey unveiled

The Prodigy Academy, which will be playing in the under-16 I-League later this year, also announced Muthoot Pappachan Foundation as its title sponsor at a function here on Tuesday. Thomas Muthoot, Muthoot Pappachan Group’s Executive Director, unveiled the team’s jerseys.

Phelan said the under-16 event will offer the academy boys, now training in Kozhikode, a good taste of the league and help them build for the future.

“It’s been sort of stop-start, stop-start and training has been hampered with exams and illnesses. I’ve been trying to work on an analytic approach. We have quality coaches who have been offering good training and we are trying to build them up and compete well but whether we are going to win the tournament is a different thing,” said the Irishman.

“We will have a good look at the league and build for the next couple of years. We have taken boys only from Kerala, which I insisted on, because we are trying to build something for Kerala, we want to build for the future.”

The Prodigy Academy team will be going to Pune shortly for specialised training at the Liverpool Academy there and also for friendly games with other under-16 teams.

Blasters to fly to Thailand

The Kerala Blasters team touched home base here on Tuesday night from Thirvuvananthapuram and will be in Kochi for a day before flying out to Thailand.

“We will be leaving for Thailand tomorrow night and some of our team members will be joining us there,” said a Blasters official.

“Sachin Tendulkar and the other Blasters owners Chiranjeevi, Nagarjuna, Allu Arvind and N. Prasad will be arriving in Kochi tomorrow morning.”

Nazon signed

Blasters announced the signing of 22-year-old Haiti forward Duckens Nazon on Tuesday.

Nazon, who was born at Chatenay-Malabry near Paris but has his roots in Haiti, was the top scorer for Haiti in last year’s CONCAF Gold Cup with two goals.

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