Kochi: SBT goalkeeper Jean Christian will captain a new-face Kerala side at the 68th Santosh Trophy football championship set to begin at J.N. Stadium in Chennai on January 26. The 20-member squad, with 8 newcomers and 11 noticeable omissions from last year, was announced by the Kerala Football Association here on Monday.
Seasoned coach A.M. Sreedharan has made significant additions in the attacking front, but retained the celebrated back four of Surjith V V., Sherin Sam, Johnson N. and KFA player of the season Sajith T.
“It is important to have a balance in the side. Several fresh creative players have earned their place in the team. The defence is almost the same, but there are good replacements in place if and when we need them,” said Sreedharan. P. Rahul, who captained Kerala to the final against Services last year, is out with an ankle injury while Rakesh K., Sumesh N. and Vineeth Antony, from former coach M. M. Jacob’s starting XI are not part of the current squad.
Taking their places are Kerala Police’s K.P. Anish, Jijo Joseph, the playmaker of Calicut University team that won the all India university last month, Gymkhana Kannur’s Prameesh K.V. and Suhair V. P. of Christ College, Irinjalakuda. Striker R. Kannan, who played with an ankle injury last season is glad to have recovered and hopes to make amends for the shortage of goals in the previous outing at home.
“It feels so great to be back fit and with Usman as our targetman I hope we score plenty of goals. The new boy Suhair is a good addition,” said the AG’s Office goal poacher.
The first match of the meet is against the host state on Jan. 26.
Goalkeepers: Jean Christian, Noufal N., Nishad P. P.
Defenders: Sherin Sam, Surjith V. V., Johnson N., Anagh B. K., Shaji A., Lijo A., Sajith T.
Midfielders: Shibinlal V. K., Jipson Justus, K. P. Anish, Jijo Joseph, Prasoon R., Prameesh K. V.
Forwards: Usman P., Suhair V. P., Nasrudheen Cheriyath, R. Kannan