ISL: 3 signings that can make Kerala Blasters unstoppable
The Kerala Blasters are one of the most popular sides in the Hero Indian Super League. The Yellow Army had a stellar run in the first and the third editions of the league (2014 and 2016), where they finished as the runners-up to ATK (formerly, Atletico de Kolkata) on both occasions. Though they had several star players like the former Manchester United greats Wes Brown and Dimitar Berbatov, Canadian forward Iain Hume and Spanish midfielder Pulga in their ranks during the 2017-18 season, they failed to qualify for the knockouts after finishing sixth in the ten-team standings.
This season, the Blasters will try to bolster their squad in order to put up a much-improved display of football. They have made their intentions clear with their recent Indian recruits - star defender Anas Edathodika, goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh, forward Holicharan Narzary and the promising Abdul Hakku Nediyodath. All they need to do now, is to bring in quality overseas stars who could further strengthen their squad.
Their choice of foreign players did not pay rich dividends last season, as those players struggled to find the back of the net. Failure to score goals cost them the season, as they managed just 20 in 18 league games. Let us now look at three overseas players who can make the Blasters unstoppable next season.
The South African midfielder played for the South African club, Ajax Cape Town's youth team for eight years before making it to the senior side in 2007. He represented them for four seasons (2007-2011), before stints with the Orlando Pirates, Supersport United and Bidvest Wits. He joined the 2014 ISL champions, Atletico de Kolkata (now ATK) in June 2015. The winger played a crucial role in their run to the semi-finals in the second season (2015), where they lost to the eventual winners, Chennaiyin FC. A versatile midfielder, Doutie can dribble past the opposition at blistering pace.
His ball control and finishing were second to none during his two-year stint with the Kolkata-based franchise. He was pivotal in ATK's title win in the third edition of the ISL in 2016, when they defeated the Kerala Blasters in the finals once again. Doutie played 26 matches for ATK across two seasons, scoring five goals, and was one of their key members during the second and fourth seasons. Surprisingly, he was released by the ATK management prior to the 2017-18 season and was bought by the new-entrants, Jamshedpur FC. Doutie, who has also played for the South African Under 20 and 23 sides, had a forgettable outing with the Steve Coppell side, who narrowly missed out on a knockout berth after finishing fifth in the standings.
The South African played just seven out of the 18 league matches and failed to replicate his ATK success. With the Jamshedpur FC management looking unhappy with his performance, he is likely to be released for the 2018-19 ISL season. With Kerala Blasters needing someone strong and pacy in front of goal, there cannot be a better option than Doutie for them.
Market value: £360k