Kochi [India], Sept 7 : Kerala Blasters FC unveiled a reinvigorated squad as it prepares to stake a claim to the trophy in the third edition of the Indian Super League (ISL).
The final squad was announced at a star-studded function in Kochi in the presence of team owner Sachin Tendulkar and new co-owners Chiranjeevi, Nagarjuna, Nimmagadda Prasad and Allu Aravind.
Kerala Blasters also announced Nivin Pauly, the most sought-after youth icon in Malayalam cinema as the Youth Ambassador for Kerala Blasters, while Muthoot Pappachan Group continues its association with the team as its main sponsor this season.
Kerala Blasters has made significant changes to the team led by newly-appointed head coach Stephen Coppell, a former Manchester United veteran.
The team has an impressive line-up of 27 footballers including star marquee player Aaron Hughes, defender Cedric Hengbart, goalkeeper Graham Stack, Michael Chopra, Azrack Mahamat, Duckens Nazon, Kervens Belfort, Didier Boris Kadio and Elhadji Ousseynou Ndoye.
Kerala Blasters has also retained Antonio German and Josue who were impressive last season along with Indian star players Sandesh Jhingan, Mehtab Hossain, Sandip Nandy, Mohammad Rafi and Gurwinder Singh for ISL 2016.
Stephen Coppell said, "We would like to play an attacking game with width. We are right now focussed on getting everybody fit and becoming a cohesive unit. We will take it one game at a time. The strategy will be fluid depending on the opposition and we will play within our strengths.'' Tendulkar, co-owner of Kerala Blasters FC said, "We have a talented team of young and experienced professionals who are hungry to go out on the field and give their best.
I am looking forward to a splendid performance from our team and urge all the fans to rally behind us.'' Kerala Blasters, co-owner and megastar Chiranjeevi said, "I am really excited at being associated with Kerala Blasters and wish the team the very best in their endeavours.'' "All the teams in the Indian Super League are highly competitive and I am keenly looking forward to seeing the yellow brigade in action,'' added co-owner and film star Nagarjuna.
Co-owner Nimmagadda Prasad said that the ISL is getting bigger and stronger and that he was confident that the league will contribute to the development of Indian football.
Co-owner Allu Aravind said that Kerala Blasters has a huge fan base not just in Kerala but beyond. The support from across the country for the league and new players coming into the fold makes it an exciting proposition for Indian football in the years to come.
Following their camp in Thiruvananthapuram, the team will embark on a tour of Thailand where they will play friendly matches against some of the premier Thai League and first division teams as well as other youth teams at the National Football Training Centre in Phuket, Thailand.
Kerala Blasters will take on NorthEast United FC in the season opener of Indian Super League 2016 on 1st October in Guwahati.