Quartz Soccer Club has signed up as many as 11 I-League players as well as this year’s Santosh Trophy top-scorer, giving Kerala football a badly needed shot in the arm.

The Kozhikode-based team’s recruiting of top Indian players would not have come at a better time, with no Kerala team left in the I-League, following the demise of the Kochi-based Viva Kerala. Quartz is also all set to sign up three foreign players, from South Africa, Nigeria Liberia.

“We would announce their names soon,” P. Haridas, executive director of the club told The Hindu here on Tuesday. “They would be top class players who have played for their countries.”

Among those already signed up are I-League players Rino Anto (Salgaocar), Shahbaz Saleel, K. Noushad, Manoj Manoharan and Sherin Sam (Chirag), Kamardeep Singh, Suji Kumar, J. Prasad and P.M. Britto (Pune FC), Salil Usman and Ajmaluddin (Mumbai FC) and V.V. Farhad, the top-scorer and Player-of-the-Tournament at the last Santosh Trophy.

Hurting football

Haridas said that Quartz decided to strengthen the team because the absence of Kerala from the I-League was hurting football in the State badly. “And we felt Kozhikode, which has always provided the biggest support to the sport in the State, deserved an I-League side,” he said. “We hope to qualify from the next edition of the I-League Second Division.”

The club would be investing about Rs. 1.5 crore to make its dream of playing in the I-League a reality, Haridas said. “At the moment it is the passion of a few people like M.A. Rakesh and M.G. Sujith, two software professionals, that is driving the club forward, but going forward, we certainly would welcome more support,” he said.

He added the club would begin training at the Corporation Stadium, which will be the team’s home ground, from October 1. “Binu George, who has had a lot of experience with Viva Kerala, is our coach,” he said.

He said Quartz would play a few all-India tournaments as well as State events before it begins its Second Division campaign early next year. “Last year, we did badly at the Second Division, but it was hardly a professional side,” he said. “We have retained just one player from that side.”

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