The first ever runners-up in the Hero Indian Super League, Kerala Blasters had an exhilarating first season, with Canadian striker Iain Hume and young Indian center back Sandesh Jhingan being the standout performers throughout the season.
However, the Sachin Tendulkar-owned side had an awful 2015 ISL season finishing last after winning only three games out of a possible fourteen (7 losses and 4 draws). Constantly at the bottom for the entire course of the tournament, Kerala Blasters had the leakiest defence conceding 29 times.
With defence being a major worry, the attack was overlooked and the entire team was in shambles. We take a look at five players who can turn the tables for the South Indian franchise:
1. Rio Ferdinand (England)
The former Manchester United captain will be a perfect fit for the Kerala outfit. Only recently retired, Ferdinand is still fresh in terms of regular playing time and has a strong hold on the art of defending. Pictures posted on social media suggest Ferdinand is still working out meticulously and is looking as fit as ever.
A tall and strong center half, Ferdinand can overpower his opponents with ease. His tackling is rough but effective. He is a monster in the air and can shield away the crosses at will.
A natural leader, Ferdinand also offers the potential to captain a young and inexperienced squad. With Kerala under the management of Englishman Terry Phelan, he can easily be tempted into signing a contract. At the age of 37 and having a wealth of experience, Rio Ferdinand is one of the favourites to be signed by the Blaster’s this season.
2. Andre Moritz (Brazil)
The former Bolton Wanderers midfielder will be ideal for the South Indian franchise. Moritz had a fine first ISL season with Mumbai City FC in which he scored thrice and assisted once in seven games. With previous experience, the current Buriram United midfielder will be a handy addition to any team.
Possessing bags of creativity, the Brazilian reads the game perfectly and can dictate play single handedly. A strong dribbler and a great passer, Moritz can go past defenders with ease. With Kerala struggling in the final third of the pitch last season, Moritz offers extra stability and can create a ton of chances.
Still 29 years old, Andre Moritz has a lot of football left in him and will be one of the favourites to be picked in the upcoming ISL Player Auctions.
3. Steven Dias (India)
The Mumbai FC midfielder was unsold in the 2015 player auctions after a horror season with Delhi Dynamos in the inaugural edition of the ISL. However, he bounced back well in the 2015-16 I-League season by playing 9 games for the Maharashtra club and scored a couple of times in the process.
Regarded as the ‘Indian David Beckham’, Dias specializes in set pieces. He is a master passer and has the ability to read the game with precision. Possessing a variety of abilities in his repertoire, Steven Dias is the perfect local player that Kerala need to boost their squad for the upcoming ISL season.
4. Daniel Agger (Denmark)
Having announced his retirement only a few days back, the former Liverpool center back is still in touch with the game and will be happy to play another two months of competitive football. If Rio Ferdinand does not take part, the Dane will be a handy replacement.
Having played over 320 games for club and country, Agger is an experienced campaigner. He can dispossess any player with his crunching tackles and is a massive aerial threat himself.
Agger is handy in attack as well where his bullet-like headers will be more than a challenge to deal with. Having captained his country for over 50 games, Agger is a born leader and can don the captain’s armband. With an impressive resume’, Agger will be a key target for the Kerala team, which is desperate for defenders.
5. Rino Anto (India)
Having been sold for a whopping 90 lakhs in the first season, the Kerala right back was a disappointment. He played 13 games and could not contribute to a single goal. His fortunes changed when he joined Bengaluru FC in the I-League where he won the league cup and carried his team into the quarter-finals of the AFC Cup.
A pacy full-back with excellent dribbling abilities, Anto cuts in with precision and delivers dangerous crosses. His defensive abilities are top notch. He can tackle with aplomb and is strong aerially. He links brilliantly with wingers and is superb with his lay-offs.
With a variety of skills in his bag, Anto will be looking forward to restore the glory for his home club.