Football is not just a sport, it’s an emotion; a ninety-minute escape from the real world to a world of excitement and passion. Malayalis’ obsession with football is quite old – the R B Ferguson Football Club, named after the Kochi Police Superintendent R B Ferguson, was established on February 20, 1899 in Thrissur. It is the oldest football club in South India and was popularly called the Young Men’s Football Club. The club played a huge role in popularising football in the 1900s. Today, one in three people I meet every day is a football fan. Everyone has their own football stories to share and memories to cherish.
This craze for football is reflected in our support of Kerala’s home team – Kerala Blasters – who made a huge comeback in the 6th season of Hero Indian Super League by defeating Atletico de Kolkata. The Manjapada lost their second match to Mumbai City FC but still, hopes are high. Kerala Blasters FC is one in ten clubs that have been playing since the inception of ISL and is also one of the teams with a high fan base and record league attendance every season.
As the football season has officially begun, we thought we’d give a few insights into our favourite team.
Beginnings and Firsts
The team was founded on 27th of May 2013. The name Kerala Blasters was inspired from the nickname of the then co-owner Sachin Tendulkar – “The Master Blaster”. Their first match was played on 13th October 2014 against NorthEast United. The first goal was scored by Ian Hume against Chenniyan FC. Mehtab Hossain was the first draft picked by the team and hence, the first player in the history of KBFC. David James was the first head coach and first marquee player in the team. Former Newcastle United forward Michael Chopra was the first foreign player picked by the team.
They played at the finals two times, both against Atletico de Kolkata and couldn’t make it through either time. The most heartbreaking final was the 2016 game, where they took an early lead through Mohammad Rafi, but lost the match in a penalty shoot-out.
About the 6th Season
In the new season, the team has come up with some major changes including the introduction of a new coach Eelco Schattorie (former NorthEast United coach and a Dutch player). The new captain Bartholomew Ogbeche is a former NorthEast United player who has scored 12 goals and led the NorthEast United FC to the playoffs for the first time. Schattorie and Ogbeche is a deadly combination and we are hoping to see more magic from them. Along with Ogbeche, Mohammad Rafi and Raphael Messi Bouli are leading as the forward wingers. The defence squad includes Sandesh Jhingan, Mohammad Rakip, Pritam Singh, Laruatthara, Abdul Hakku, Jessel Carneiro, Gianni Zuiverloon, Jairo Rodrigues and Raju Gaikwad. Sergio Cidoncha, Darren Cladeira, Halicharan Narzary, Jeakson Thounaojam, Mario Arques, Moustapha Gning, Prasanth Karuthadathkudi, Rahul Kannoly, Sahal Abdul Samad, Samuel Lalmuanpuia and Seityasen Singh are the midfielders in the squad. Bilal Khan, Rehenesh Parambha, and Shibin Kunniyil are the goalkeepers.
Two matches down, and we are in the 6th position ( as of 30-10-2019) with one gain and one loss. Compared to the first match, the second match was not up to the mark. The team is yet to get into form. The midfield was completely dead with the goalkeeper still lacking confidence. The defence was poor as well. The gap between the two matches was just three days, and maybe that’s what went against us. Overall, when analysing the first two matches the team still needs to improve in many areas. But when you look at the statistics of KBFC the team was always a late bloomer; it took them four matches in the first season to get their first win so we still have hope.
Considering the fan base of the club they really should be headstrong and show some real game in the coming matches. The last season was a disaster and yet the fans are still hanging onto the club. This shows how dedicated and loyal their fans are and they really deserve a victory.
Before we sign off, here’s a look at the most celebrated players in the KBFC.
For the past 5 years, Jhingan has been with the team at its highs and lows. He is very loyal to the club, and his performance helped him in earning the “Emerging Player of the League” award.
Ian Hume aka Humettan has one of the most fan-following among foreign players. This Canadian player has scored over 10 goals for KBFC.
This 37-year-old player has contributed 6 goals to the team and many more to go.
C.K Vineeth is the highest goal scorer in the history of Kerala Blasters with 11 goals. He too has a huge fan base.
Sahal Abdul Samad
Nicknamed as the Indian Ozil, Sahal was the “Emerging Player of the League” of last season and most anticipated player this season.
He is another foreign footballer who has scored 6 goals for KBFC and is widely praised for his performance.
Josu Prieto Currais
Popularly called Josuttan, Josu marked his presence as the first goalscorer in the 3rd season of ISL.
This English footballer is one of the top goal scorers with 6 goals scored for KBFC.
This is only a small fraction of a large list! Let us know who is your favourite player is in the comment section.