KOCHI: The goalkeeping position was one of the problem areas for Kerala Blasters last season. Eelco Schattorie, who was in charge started the season with experienced campaigner TP Rehenesh, but lost patience with him and gave Bilal Khan an opportunity.
Neither goalkeeper looked convincing enough to implement the style of Schattorie, who wanted his team to play out from the back - starting with the goalkeeper.
The Dutch coach departed at the end of the season and Kibu Vicuna was appointed as the new tactician. Even though Blasters will have a new coach, the team in all likelihood will play a similar style of football to Schattorie - under Vicuna.
The Spanish tactician also prefers a passing, attacking game that demands significant contribution from the goalkeeper as well. On Wednesday, Kerala Blasters announced the first signing under Vicuna with 26-year-old goalkeeper Albino Gomes joining the club.
The six-foot-two goalkeeper had left Odisha FC after a nightmarish season where an anterior cruciate ligament injury had ruled him out for the whole campaign. Gomes had fallen off the radar a bit due to an injury-plagued 2019-20 season, but he is one of the brightest keepers in the country.
He was instrumental in helping Aizawl FC win the I-League in the 2016-17 season keeping eight clean sheets in the process. At Mumbai City and later at Delhi Dynamos, he enjoyed good spells.
Gomes is looking to reboot his career and with Blasters needing a steady presence at the back, it looks like a smart acquisition and a move that could work for both parties. "I looked at the various options that were in front of me and I felt that Blasters was good for me. Coming back from a lengthy injury lay-off is not easy and the most important thing is to try and get back into shape and be absolutely ready for next season," said Albino.
The Goan lad said that he is ready to fight for the number one spot in the team and can cope with the demands of the coach. "I have been working with Spanish coaches for the past few seasons and so I know to expect. I think the coach (Vicuna) likes to play out from the back and I'm comfortable doing that. The important thing is to start training with the coach and the team-mates and then things will fall into place. You start picking up on the style and also begin to have a better understanding with your team-mates. I hope it (training) happens soon," he said.
Blasters sporting director Karolis Skinkys suggested that Albino has a big role to play at the club. "I trust his capabilities-both physical and mental strength and believe he is now ready to showcase his talents to become an important part of our team. I hope to see him be confident and give his maximum from day one," said Skinkys.