While Kerala Blasters have come close to the ISL champion spot twice in the four seasons played, they haven't won any. They have arguably the best fans in the whole of the continent in both quantity and quality, and can even challenge the European fans. Their fan club, named Manjappada, supports the team in all their matches, no matter how they play. They give their hearts out to football. They also travel kilometres to the away stadium and makes the players feel like home.
But the fans haven't got a chance to celebrate except for two finals. They will be looking forward to the upcoming seasons for an ISL cup.
Let's take a look at their best eleven of all the four seasons played. The criteria of 5 foreign players in the starting XI has been kept, but there are more than 8 foreigners including the sub-list. Read on to know the top Kerala Blasters XI. The team has had players from different countries, with a majority of players coming from England(6), Brazil(4), and Spain(3).
Sandip Nandy - Goalkeeper
The 43-year old has played for the team in all the former three seasons. He played brilliantly between the sticks, even at his 40s age. He's fit and his reflexes are awesome. Nobody has ever replaced him in the team. Out of the 18 matches played, he has kept 7 clean-sheets with a brilliant save percentage of 77.41%.
Even though he was in the squad this season, he couldn't find his position in the starting eleven. But Kerala hasn't ever let him go from the squad till now.
Cedric Hengbart, Sandesh Jhingan, Gurwinder Singh, Lalruathara
Sandesh Jhingan and Cedric Hengbart in the centre of the defence will be a very hard rock for the opposition strikers to break.The Frenchman has an impressive 106 interceptions to his name in all the three seasons he has played in ISL (2 for Kerala Blasters and 1 for Northeast). Jhingan, the Indian Puyol, who is a brave tackler will be equivalent to a foreign defender.
Along with them Gurwinder Singh and Lalruathara will be wing-backs. Gurwinder won't give the opposition wingers enough space with his strong physique. And Lalruathara, who became a crucial part of the team this season will keep close and tackle the ball from opponents. He's too quick and has 85 tackles in just 17 games he has played for the team in this season.
Mehtab Hossain, Josue Currais Prieto, Kizito Keziron, CK Vineeth
Mehtab Hossain will be in the defensive midfield position as the anchor-man. He has great experience in the tournament as he has played 50 matches across all four seasons. His passing accuracy of 78.19% and 147 tackles is pretty impressive.
Josu and Vineeth will be on the left and right wings respectively. Josu was the fan-favourite player in the team in ISL season 3 and became the all-time top assist-provider with 6 assists in two seasons. He came to the team as an attacking midfielder but ended up in the left wing, where he excelled amazingly.
CK Vineeth has an unpredictable form.He has scored 9 goals and provided 3 assists. He scores when the team needs him most, but he failed to come up to the expectations in the climax stages of this ISL season. But considering previous seasons, he'll be the apt player in the right wing, who can beat opponents effortlessly and score goals.
Kizito, the youngest foreign player to be on this team, has only played 4 matches, but he'll make a very big impact on the team as he plays very dynamically. He has a very good passing accuracy with 79.59% and has made 147 passes in just 272 minutes played. His position will be the central attacking midfielder but he'll be a free-roaming player in the middle of the pitch. He'll find teammates with much ease. He works very hard and plays almost error-free.
Kervens Belfort, Iain Hume
These two dynamic hardworking strikers will make the opposition defenders tremble as they can cause a lot of damage.
The Haitian, Belfort is more of a skilful player and a dribbler. He has scored 3 goals for the team in the third season of ISL.
Then comes the ISL hero, Iain Hume. He's the most hardworking player in the team. He'll run all over the pitch and helps out everywhere he can. He has scored crucial goals for the team in ISL season 1 and 4.
Even in his 30s, the Canadian has great fitness and dynamic power. Overall, he has 28 goals and 7 assists to his tally for both Kerala Blasters and ATK.
#1 Paul Rachubka - He's the keeper who made great saves at crucial times. His less playing time made him sit on the bench. (33 saves and 5 clean-sheets in 12 matches)
#2 Aaron Hughes - The Irish defender just lost out to Cedric Hengbart, as they both are almost equally good. But he has played fewer games and kept his cool in pressurised situations and dispossessed opponents with ease. He has 55 clearances and 15 blocks to his name from the 11 matches he stood as a rock in the defence.
#3 Nirmal Chettri - He has played an important role in the defence in the first ISL season. He's an attack-minded wing-back who loves to venture forward.
#4 Pulga - He could have replaced Mehtab, had there been one more foreign slot. He'll be able to organise play in the middle of the pitch. He doesn't have stats proving his importance to the team, but those who have seen him play will surely understand his value.
#5 Jackichand Singh - The pacy winger will be subbed on for CK Vineeth when he's out of form. He'll make the opposition defence dizzy with his quick change of direction. He also has the ability to provide great crosses and has provided 63 of them in the fourth edition of ISL.
#6 Courage Pekuson - The Ghanaian will make the midfield look more explosive. He has also a great ability to intercept and gain possession of the ball. He contributes to both the defence and attack equally. On one side he has 1 goal and 5 assists to his name (making him the 2nd top assist-provider in the team after Josu), whereas his contributions in the defensive department are also equally impressive with 56 tackles and 15 interceptions.
#7 Sanchez Watt - He played for Kerala Blasters in the second season and was a player with quick feet and great accuracy. He scored 2 goals in his 9 appearances for the yellow army.
DJ isn't the manager with the best tactics, but he has been able to get the most out of the players. He has the best win percentage for the team in yellow as a coach. He has been able to motivate the players more than anyone could do.
If all these players were to play together in a single ISL season, then it would have been the strongest team on paper and would play a wonderful brand of football. But still, nobody knows what would happen in the game, as it is football, unpredictability at its best.