There were frantic calls between Kochi and Kolkata over the last few weeks as Kerala got ready for the Santosh Trophy. The State desperately wanted T.K. Jesin who had played a big role for the side in the tournament’s previous edition – he scored five goals in the semifinal against Karnataka – but the young forward is now with ISL side East Bengal’s reserve team and the club was not keen on releasing him.
“If we had Jesin, it would have been very nice but unfortunately he could not make it. He was really keen on coming, unfortunately it didn’t happen,” said P.B. Ramesh, Kerala’s head coach, in a chat with Sportstar here on Thursday.
“A week ago, it was clear that Jesin would not be coming. When we play a game, the important part is to get goals. That is lacking a bit but we are improving on that. We will make the best of what we have.
“We have strikers like Naresh who looks really good and then there’s John Paul who has amazing speed, he’s capable of disturbing defences and look for opportunities. Also, there’s Viknesh who can play as a winger and as a striker.”
Jesin was earning Rs 7000 playing sevens football in Malappuram and his life changed after his Santosh Trophy heroics with clubs keen on offering him big money. Ramesh is now selling a similar dream to his young players, hoping to inspire them.
“We are telling the players this is an opportunity to prove what they are capable of,” said Ramesh who is also making his debut as a Santosh Trophy team coach.
The Santosh Trophy, played in a zonal format till the last edition, now has a new format with teams from all over the country. Ramesh said the new system was more challenging .
The Kerala probables also had a to face frequent disruptions during the camp as many of them had to leave to play for their university tournaments and also for their clubs in the Kerala Premier League as the dates were clashing.
The road ahead looks tough but it will be an exciting challenge for the youngsters.