Rain threat looms large over La Liga World pre-season tourney in Kochi

The heavy rain in the city could turn out to be a big problem for next week’s Toyota Yaris La Liga World pre-season football tournament at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Former Spanish footballer and La Liga ambassador Fernando Morientes had unveiled the trophy last month.   -  Special Arrangement

The heavy rain in the city could turn out to be a big problem for next week’s Toyota Yaris La Liga World pre-season football tournament at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here.

The three-team event, the country’s first inter-continental pre-season tournament and hosted by Kerala Blasters FC, featuring La Liga club Girona FC, A-League side Melbourne City FC and Blasters, will run from July 24 to 28.

But there is a big worry whether the Nehru Stadium and the training grounds, the Panampilly Nagar Sports Academy ground and the Maharaja’s Stadium, would be good enough for the visiting teams.

“The Nehru Stadium ground condition is okay, once the rain stops, everything will be fine but since there are three consecutive matches (July 24, 26 and 28), there may be some issues if it rains in the evening,” said a Kerala Football Association official.

“If the condition is like what we have now, it will be difficult but the forecast is that the weather would change next week.”

The first team, Melbourne FC, is expected to arrive in the city on July 19 and the training venues are likely to be an issue too.

“The Panampilly Nagar ground is okay now, there is no flooding and no damage at this moment, but if it rains heavily, practice will be impossible because the ground will turn bad after just one session. The surface is soft there,” said the official.

No full session possible

“If the rain continues like this, they can probably train for half-an-hour, they can’t do a full session. If the three teams do a full session, then the ground will be in a horrible condition. The Maharaja’s is also almost in the same condition.”

“Since the teams are coming, they cannot postpone the tournament, they can probably shift the venue,” the KFA official said. Despite repeated attempts, the Kerala Blasters FC CEO Varun Tripuraneni could not be reached for his comments on a possible shift of venue.

The Blasters players, including their new Serbian striker Slavisa Stojanovic, are currently training at Ahmedabad, and are likely to reach the city soon.

Tickets for the tournament are available online on Paytm and insider.in. For offline tickets, call 62355 44444.

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