Good mix of youth and experience

BLASTERS FC PLAYERS, wearing the traditional Kerala `MUNDU', showcase their football skills.-PTI

The Indian Super League is being viewed as one last attempt to help reinvent football in India. And Kerala Blasters FC — the league’s Kochi franchise — also offers football in the State a chance to climb out of the rut into which it has fallen in recent years.

The state, home of superstar Indian footballers like I. M. Vijayan and Jo Paul Ancheri, has been witnessing a steady decline in the standards of the beautiful game. Official apathy and failure to march in tune with the changing times have proved detrimental for the sport. Blasters — owned by Sachin Tendulkar, one of the greatest cricketers ever, and Hyderabad-based PVP ventures — has already generated enough enthusiasm: a clear statement about the state’s fanatical following of football.

The team, though a scratch combination as of now, has former English goalkeeper David James as its marquee player-manager and also several other notable names in its ranks. Kerala, with foreign signings like Cedric Hengbart, Colin Falvey, Erwin Spitzner, Raphael Ramey and James Reynolds in defence, Penn Orji and Victor Herrero Forcado in midfield and Andrew Barisic, Iain Hume and Pedro Adriano Veloso Gusmao and Michael Chopra upfront, will surely put up a decent fight.

The side, which has former East Bengal manager Trevor Morgan as its assistant coach, has a good mix of youth and experience and will be aided well by Indian stars like Sandip Nandy, Mehtab Hossain and Renedy Singh and the Kerala-bred players Sushanth Mathew, C. S. Sabeeth and Duleep Menon.

A. Vinod