Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 2 (IANS) In the inaugural edition, Kerala Blasters almost clinched the Indian Super League (ISL) football trophy, but after a nail-biting final against Atletico de Kolkata, had to be content with the runners-up position. However, the franchise is confident of winning this time.
“Last time we almost did it, but failed at the last moment. This time, we are certain that we will win the trophy,” Blasters’ English defender Marcus Williams told IANS. Williams, who has played for English side Sheffield United, has been roped in for his maiden appearance in the ISL.
But Blasters — co-owned by Sachin Tendulkar — has been able to overcome its initial blip, after marquee player Spaniard Carlos Marchena, a 2010 World Cup winner, was forced to return home after being injured while practising.
“Yes, he has returned to Spain to seek expert medical advice. We are yet to hear from him about his coming back. But we do have players as back up in all positions; so his loss is not going to be a problem,” midfielder Josue Currais Prieto told IANS.
Prieto, 22, is confident that despite retaining only six players from last year, they have gelled well after their practice began last month.
“The practice sessions were excellent and we feel confident that we will be able to do well,” he said adding that Kerala are a good side, but noted that the weather is a bit too hot and humid for his liking.
Blasters has signed Englishman Peter Taylor as their chief coach.
“We have worked very hard and this time all the teams have new players,” Williams added.
Attention will be on the home-grown Sandesh Jhingan, who was selected as emerging player in the first edition and was one of the six retained by the club.
Other key players include Peter Ramage (England), Bruno Perone (Brazil) and goalkeeper Stephen Bywater, besides national players like Cavin Lobo and Peter Carvalho.
Adding financial muscle to the franchises ambitions will be Muthoot Fincorp Ltd, who have become the co-owner of the team.
“Yes, we have now become the co-owner of the team and one of our key areas that we will be concentrating is to see that Kerala regains its past glory in the game of football,” S. Kannan, executive vice president of Muthoot, said while speaking to reporters here on Thursday.
“We have decided that we will be keen to promote football and we invite all the clubs that are into football to come to us. We will certainly ensure that we will do all our best to promote local talent,” said Kannan.