Indian Super League has already made its mark in the hearts of the Indian sports lovers within the first few days of its debut. After knowing about other teams, today we are going to portray the ISL team from down south.
The team has attracted many eyes not because of the footballers playing in the team, but because one of the owners is the most famous and respected name in the world of sports. Yes, we are talking about Sachin Tendulkar, who is a partner in the ISL team Kerala Blasters.
Along with West Bengal and Goa, Kerala too is one of the major forces in Indian football and it has given many good football players to the Indian team as well. But this is totally a different stage, this is where professionalism will be at its peak, and along with the moolah, the prestige is also at stake. So let know more about the Kerala Blasters.
Basic Details of Kerala Blasters
Full Name: Kerala Blasters Football Club (KBFC)
Nickname(s): Manjappada (Yellow Army), The Tuskers
Founded on: 27th May 2014
Home Ground: Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi, Kerala
Owners: Chiranjeevi, Akkineni Nagarjuna, Allu Aravind and Nimmagadda Prasad
Head Coach: Eelco Schattorie
Leagues Playing: Indian Super League
Official Website: https://keralablastersfc.in/
How Kerala Blasters FC was Found?
When in the early days of 2014 it was declared that AIFF – All India Football Federation had joined hands with the IMG-Reliance to stage a spectacular football league in tune with the Indian Premier League of Cricket, many industrialists and famous football enthusiasts came to gather to own a franchise.
On 13th April while announcing the successful bid it was revealed that the Indian and world cricket great Sachin Tendulkar and the NRI Businessman Prasad V Potluri have won the bid for the Kerala Franchise. On 27th May the team name was announced which was ‘Kerala Blasters’, the name is based on the nickname Sachin Tendulkar has which is ‘the master blaster’. The team was officially inaugurated on 15th September at the Crown Plaza hotel in Kochi.
In August 2014, David James a former England goalkeeper was appointed as the head coach for Kerala Blasters and also as the marquee player for the season. Later on, in the international draft, the club signed 7 foreign players, from which Michael Chopra, former Newcastle United forward was their first pick of the draft.
Kerala Blasters played their first match of 2014 season on October 13, 2014, against NotherEast United on their home ground Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium where they lost the game by 1-0. It took 4 games to get their first victory where they beat Pune City FC by 2-1.
The first five matches of Kerala Blasters were all away matches and finally, they got the chance to host their first home match on November 6, 2014, against Goa. In front of 49,517 fans, Kerala Blasters won the home match by 1-0 which was scored by Milagres Gonsalves.
At the end of the season, Kerala Blasters finished 4th and booked their place in the playoffs where they were drawn against Chennaiyin FC.
Though not being considered as the favorites to win the two-legged semi-finals against Chennaiyin FC, Kerala Blasters managed to win the first-leg by 3-0. With a three-goal advantage in the second-leg, Chennaiyin FC managed to win the second-leg by 3-0 which took the game into extra time.
Stephen Pearson managed to score the decisive goal in the 117th minute which made Kerala Blasters win the semi-finals and clashed against ATK in the finals.
In the finals, Kerala Blasters fought till the end but had to face defeat against ATK by 1-0 at DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai.
After the inaugural season, it was announced that the head coach David James would not return to the club and the club signed former Peter Taylor England’s U20 coach as their head coach in May 2015.
With the signing of the new head coach Blasters went on to sign new foreign players such as Peter Ramage, Bruno Perone, Stephen Bywater, João Coimbra, Sanchez Watt, and Carlos Marchena as their marquee players.
Kerala Blasters started the season with an amazing win in their first two games which were against NorthEast United and Mumbai City FC respectively.
Though having an amazing start they lost their next four matches in a row which led to the dismissal of Peter Taylor. For a match assistant coach, Trevor Morgon was in charge of the club before Terry Phelan was named as the head coach for the 2015 season. But still, Blasters went on to finish the season in last place.
After a disappointing season, in June 2016, Kerala Blaster announced the signing of Steve Coppell, former Crystal Palace manager as their new head coach.
Later in the following week, the club announced the signing of Aaron Hughes who is a former Northern Ireland international player as their new marquee player.
Blasters lost their first match of the season against NorthEast United by 1-0 but after the first month of the season, the defense of the club was considered to be one of the best in the season but struggled to score goals.
In the second half of the season, C.K Vineeth returned to the club after completing his loan spell with Bengaluru FC and then the Blasters surged their way to qualify for the playoffs where they finished second in the table during the regular season.
In the semi-finals, they were drawn against Delhi Dynamos. Both the legs of the semis ended on an aggregate score of 2-2 and the game was taken to the penalties where Kerala Blasters won the shootout by 3-0 to move to the finals.
It was their second finals in a span of three-season where they clashed ATK for the second time. It was a thrilling final where both the teams gave their everything till the end of the final whistle where the game ended in 1-1 draw and went to the penalty shootout. The shootout ended on a 4-3 scoreline which resulted in the defeat of Kerala Blasters.
In the 2017 season, Blasters appointed René Meulensteen, former Manchester United first-team coach as their new manager.
Blasters made a huge impact in the team for the upcoming season where they released all their foreign players and went on to sign new players which included former Manchester United players Paul Rachubka, Wes Brown, and Dimitar Berbatov.
They brought back Iain Hume who was their leading goalscorer in the first season. Though signing some amazing players they bagged only one victory in their first 8 games of the season, which led to the sacking of René Meulensteen and brought back David James who was the fan-favorite manager in the first ISL season as their new manager. But James also couldn’t do much, and Blasters managed 5 wins in the remaining 10 fixtures and finished 6th in the season.
After some good performances in the last season, Kerala Blasters made a 3-year deal with David James. With a new spirit, Blasters looked to bounce back but they faced their worst season ever. In their 12 fixtures, they won only 1 and drew 6 which led to the sacking of David James.
After the international break for the remaining 6 fixtures Blasters signed Nelo Vingada as their new manager. But again they didn’t have much success with the new manager and managed only 1 win and drew 3 in the remaining 6 fixtures and finished 9th in the league.
The Super Cup also was a disaster for the club as they were knocked out in the Qualification Round of the tournament.
Kerala Blasters 2019-20 Squad
The current squad of Kerala Blasters for the 2019-2020 season is as follows:
Head Coach: Eelco Schattorie
Goalkeepers: TP Rehenesh, Bilal Khan, Shibinraj Kunniyil
Defenders: Gianni Zuiverloon, Jairo Rodriguez, Sandesh Jhingan (injured), Lalruatthara, Mohammad Rakip, Pritam Kumar Singh, Abdul Hakku, Jessel Carneiro
Midfielders: Mario Arques, Sergio Cidoncha, Mouhamadou Gning, Sahal Abdul Samad, Darren Caldeira, Seityasen Singh, Rahul KP, Jeakson Singh, Samuel Lalmuanpuia, Prasanth Karuthadathkuni, Halicharan Narzary
Forwards: Bartholomew Ogbeche, Raphael Messi Bouli, Mohammed Rafi