Jijo Joseph, the 29-year-old SBI midfielder who hails from Thrissur, will lead host Kerala in the Santosh Trophy.
While Joseph, the side’s senior-most member, will be playing his seventh National football championship, 15 players in the 22-member team will be making their Santosh Trophy debut.
“This is the first time we have so many newcomers in the Santosh Trophy team,” said P. Anilkumar, the Kerala Football Association general secretary, shortly after the team was announced here on Friday.
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Kerala will host the Santosh Trophy’s South Zone Group ‘B’ matches at Kochi’s Nehru Stadium from December 1 to 5. The other teams are Puducherry, Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar and the winner of the group will progress to the Santosh Trophy’s final rounds which will be held at Kozhikode and Manjeri in January 2022.
Ramco Cements Limited, which has a close association with the KFA, will be the Kerala team’s main sponsor.
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“Ramco started sponsoring the Kerala Santosh Trophy team in 2013 and this is the fifth time we are sponsoring the side,” said Renjit Jacob, Ramco Cements’ vice president (marketing), during the team unveiling event here.
The Kerala team
Goalkeepers: V. Midhun (Kerala United), S. Hajmal (KSEB).
Defenders: G. Sanju (Kerala Police), Muhammed Asif (Bhawanipur FC), Vibin Thomas (Kerala Police), Ajay Alex (Golden Threads), A.P. Muhammed Shafeer (Parappur FC, under-21), P.T. Muhammed Basith (Kerala Blasters, u-21).
Midfielders: K. Muhammed Rashid (Gokulam), Jijo Joseph (SBI), Arun Jayaraj, P. Akhil, K. Salman, M. Adersh, V. Bujair (all Kerala United), P.N. Noufal (Calicut United), Nijo Gilbert (Kerala Blasters), N.S. Shighil (Bengaluru FC, u-21).
Forwards: T.K. Jesin (Ker. Utd), S. Rajesh (Rail Wheel Factory), Muhammed Safnad (Ker. Utd, u-21), Muhammed Ajsal (MA FA, u-21).
Officials: Bino George (head coach, Thrissur), T.G. Purushothaman (asst. coach), Saji Joy (goalkeeper trainer), Muhammed (physiotherapist), Muhammed Saleem (manager).