Kerala Blasters FC hit the ground running in friendly
David James marked his managerial debut with Kerala Blasters FC by guiding the team to a comprehensive win against Kerala Police. The friendly, arranged at the Corporation Stadium in Thrissur to give the new club match practice ahead of the upcoming Hero Indian Super League (ISL) season, resulted in a 5-1 win for the Blasters.
James, who has the dual responsibility of marquee player and manager for the Kochi-based side, opted not to play himself, instead using the opportunity to get the feel of his new managerial role. He was joined on the sidelines by assistant manager James McAllister, who is also in a player-manager role for the club. The match was divided into three periods of 30 minutes each, rather than the usual two halves, to allow the managers to take tactical breaks and test different strategies.
Ex-England goalkeeper James sent out a starting line-up with 10 Indian players, including midfielders Renedy Singh and Mehtab Hossain and striker CS Sabeeth, all of whom have also turned out for the national team. Experienced India keeper Sandip Nandy started in goal, with I-League veteran Luis Barreto also getting some playing time between the posts. Sabeeth filled his boots with a brace in the first period. Michael Chopra also scored a brace, after coming on for the third period.
In all, James and his managerial team used 19 players for the match, including international players Chopra, Iain Hume, Andrew Barisic, Penn Orji, Pedro Gusmão, and Victor Forcada. As a sign of Kerala Blasters’ potential tactical flexibility, James also tried out three different formations, starting with a 4-4-2 before switching to a line-up which interchanged between a 4-3-3 and a 3-4-3.
The ISL kicks off on October 12, with the Sachin Tendulkar-owned Kerala Blasters FC opening their season with an away match against Guwahati-based NorthEast United FC on October 15. James and the rest of the team will make their home debut against Atlético de Kolkata on October 27 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi.