Kerala Blasters boss Gregory snaps up Carneiro to boost ISL title tilt

Kerala Blasters FC

The anticipation continues to grow as we head ever nearer to the big kick-off in the Indian Super League. And while there isn’t any action to speak of just yet, there is a flurry of off-field activity to keep fans in touch with their heroes. As supporters eagerly wait for the league season to start unfolding, instead they make do with reports of the transfer activity among the clubs vying for the title this time of asking.

Perhaps the most intriguing signing of the off-season of late is the surprising arrival of Goan defender Jessel Carneiro at Kerala Blasters. The full-back, who is aged 29 (which makes the move one which is difficult to explain given that he is no spring chicken), joins ahead of the new campaign from Dempo Sporting Club. The left-back formerly skippered Goa in the 2018/19 Santosh Trophy held in Punjab and was proud to see his side do well and eventually come second.

Jessel, who has previously been on the books of Salgaocar, FC Pune and Dempo SC, has expressed his delight at the switch which sees him take part in what will be, for him, his debut season. He said:

“I am so happy to be a part of Kerala Blasters for my debut season of the Indian Super League. This is going to be a turning point in my career and I’m looking forward to an exciting and challenging season with the club. My focus will be to align with the goals of the club and will put in the best of my abilities to achieve the same with the team.”

Meanwhile, Kerala Blasters assistant coach Ishfaq Ahmed says he has every faith in the recruitment and believes that Jessel could be a rough gem ready and waiting to be shone at a new club and sparkle thereafter. He added:

“He is a potent addition to Kerala Blasters. He is surely going to be an asset to the team in defence. I am happy to have signed him and look forward to working with him.”

Elsewhere, Chennaiyin FC boss John Gregory, formerly a head coach at Aston Villa, has moved swiftly to snap up highly-rated central defender Lucian Goian from Mumbai City, for whom he made more than 50 appearances in a three-year stint.

And Goian has admitted that the influence of Gregory, who also managed Queens Park Rangers and Derby County in England, was instrumental in making the move. He said:

“It feels great to sign with Chennaiyin. Gregory played a big role in me coming here. I said ‘yes’ when he asked me if I wish to return to India to win the ISL trophy. Chennaiyin with Gregory are a club that knows how to win trophies, and I can’t wait to get started and give my absolute 100 per cent on the pitch. I am confident we will do everything to make the squad a team and bring the ISL title back to Chennai.”

As for Gregory, he has every faith in the new arrival being an instant hit with his team-mates and supporters. He added:

“In Goian, we are signing a leader who has rich experience in Indian football. His commitment and aggression on the pitch has been quite evident from his time in Mumbai.”