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Coppell awaits players, happy with squad balance

Published: 02nd September 2016 04:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd September 2016 04:20 AM   |  A+A-

steve coppell_ENS

Former England international and Reading FC manager Steve Coppell. (File Photo)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: For Kerala Blasters FC, the 2015 Indian Super League (ISL) season can be described as nothing less than calamitous, as they finished rock bottom, winning just three of 14 games. But in 30 days’ time, they will have a fresh start when they open the third edition against NorthEast United FC at Guwahati.

And newly appointed head coach Steve Coppell is hoping Blasters will be a revived unit when they take to the field on October 1. “No season is the same. This year, we’ll have a good squad with good balance,” said the English coach, who is overseeing Blasters’ pre-season at Greenfield International Stadium, Kariavattom here. Kicking off pre-season on Sunday, the former Reading FC and Manchester City manager has only spent five days with players at his disposal, and feels it is too early to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of his squad, but promises that his team will ‘love going forward’.

“We’re yet to get the teeth into pre-season. I’ve only four goalkeepers and 12 outfield players here. As players arrive in the coming days, we’ll know what our expectations for the season are,” said Coppell, who is expecting more players, including Northern Ireland legend Aaron Hughes, to join up in Thailand.

Retained in the squad from last season, Josu Currais Prieto and Antonio German were in action in training on Thursday, so were English forward Michael Chopra and French defender Cedric Hengbart, who were in yellow jerseys in the maiden ISL season, when Blasters ended as runners-up.

“In a tournament as condensed as ISL, we need all of them to produce a collective performance, and step up when needed,” the 61-year-old said.

“Last season, the team were inconsistent. We conceded a lot of goals in the final 15 minutes of matches. That’s something we’re looking into ¡ª fitness and ways to conserve energy at the end,” Coppel added.

The first two seasons were polar opposites, and Coppell and his boys are working away with the hope that the third time will be lucky for the yellow brigade.

sports@newindianexpress.com

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