As P.K. Anilkumar, the I.M. Vijayan look-alike, hoodwinked the goalkeeper and struck thrice, all from different angles, against Kozhikode’s Chandini FC in the Navy Cup the other night at Fort Kochi, the pieces slowly appeared to be falling together for the Kerala State Electricity Board.
The last couple of years had been rather tough for the electricity board football team, from Thiruvananthapuram. There had been cases of indiscipline — three of its players were suspended for six months for playing in an unauthorised sevens tournament during the State League at Kozhikode — and some of its stars were sparkling at other clubs.
Now, the KSEB team wears a new look. The team’s top star, Anilkumar, who played for Kochi’s Viva Kerala a couple of years ago and then for Goa’s Salgaocar recently, is back and a couple of others will be returning in a few months. And the team has now recruited some of the State’s brightest faces.
Ropes in Sakeer
And that includes the Viva Kerala captain M.P. Sakeer, a very talented midfielder.
“We have recruited five new players. Apart from Sakeer, we have also taken Surjith from Viva, and three State Bank of Travancore guest players Kannan, Sreeju and Mohammed Rasi,” said KSEB coach V.J. Andrews, who took the team’s reins five months ago.
But KSEB is not in a hurry to call Sakeer and Surjith for duty.
“Viva Kerala is the State’s and also South India’s only team in the National League (the I-League), so as a special case, we have given them permission to join after the league,” said the coach.
The new boys should give a younger look to the team. Just a few weeks ago, with an average age above 30, the team appeared to be packed with weary legs. And 15 of the team’s 18 members happened to be married too. And that turned out to be another problem.
“When we had our regular camp at the Central Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram, many of the seniors never used to come on time for training since they were staying with their families,” said Andrews. “So, we shifted our base to Areecode in Malappuram for a month-long camp which ended a few days ago. This is the first time, we’re having a camp away from the Capital.”
No big goals
KSEB, Kerala’s champion club in 2006, has not set any big goals for itself, the plan is to take things step by step.
“It’s a one-year goal. We want to do well in the State inter-club championship and in other State-level tournaments in one year,” said the coach.