As the seventh edition of the Kerala Premier League has commenced on the 6th of March, KBFC Media sat down with the KBFC-R Team Manager Hidhayath Rasi and Head Coach T. Purushothaman to discuss football and beyond.
When asked about the long gap that the players had, owing to the pandemic, Rasi commented that, “The players are coming back to the camp after a long layoff. Last year was completely inactive for them as no competitions took place last season due to the pandemic. The major challenge for us is to get the players to match fitness in a short period. It is also not wise to spend all the training time on fitness as we need to make the players tactically ready to fit into our system. The best we can do in this short time is help them become match fit and tactically ready as we progress through the tournament. KBFC-R will play their first game on the 13th of March against Kerala United FC, before that we will be playing a couple of friendlies and hopefully, the players will be ready by then.”
Rasi seemed quite confident in the team, and reflecting upon the preparations so far he said, “As a development team, we want more match time, that’s our priority. Becoming champions is secondary for us. Also as a reserve team our objective is to feed as much talent as possible to the first team next season and we want to do that consistently every year. Last year Ayush Adhikari, Muheet, Mukhtasana, Naorem Mahesh, Shaiborlang Kharan and Kenstar Kharshong got called up for the first team camp and we are hoping to add to that list this year also. We are pitted in group B with many strong opponents, we respect all the opponents but we are confident that we can compete well. The average age of KBFC-R is 18 and if you look at the other clubs competing, that’s not the case. Departmental clubs have most of their players in their 20’s and some of the professional clubs might have foreigners also in their squad. However, we are not worried, we can overcome all those with the pace and determination that these young crops offer. And if you look back at the last season it says the same story as well.”
It’s the first season for T. Purushothaman with KBFC-R and it is a new-look team as there are lots of incoming and outgoing players in the reserve team and when asked about the new challenge he said, “Yes, there are challenges but I see these challenges as opportunities. If you see, the players are indeed coming after a huge gap and to get them back to match fitness will be very challenging, but, the hunger to play is at its peak now. With that energy, I am hopeful that I can motivate them to push their limits. For me personally, I have to teach them my football philosophy and implement the system here which I feel confident we can do before the campaign starts. And as far as results are concerned, yes, we are a result-oriented team however as a developmental team, providing opportunities and game time also takes priority. I hope with the help of the players I can balance the two and hopefully have a memorable season.”
“My football philosophy is very simple, Play the game attractively and effectively. I like my team to keep the ball but it needs to be effective. I am very pragmatic in that sense and I like to plan each game based on the opponents and the players we have. For me, if someone happens to watch a match of our reserve team I want them to find it attractive and it should force them to come and watch my boys play regularly.” he added.
Speaking on the significance of knowing our opponents, the coach quipped, “If we talk about the opponents we may have to fight it out with a physically stronger team in a different age spectrum. In this competition, you have to be ready for everything. One way we can negate those challenges is by utilizing the speed and agility we have in our players. Yes, there are a lot of exciting talents in the roster. Personally, each and everyone in the team is the same for me. The perfect analogy would be, they are like the five fingers in the hand and it will be the strongest if we fold all the five and make it a fist. Likewise, individually each one is talented but as a team, they will be the strongest. If I should point out some, Bejoy in the center back, Amal, Yoihemba, Asif, Deep Saha, Sreekuttan, Roshan, and Basith are exciting talents. My objective is to help each player reach the peak of their ability then results will automatically follow.”
Coach also got candid when talking about his favorite football coach, saying “Johan Cruyff was my favorite coach and for that reason I followed Barcelona. FC Barcelona when under Pep Guardiola was the best team I have ever seen. Now I follow Pep a lot and learn a lot watching his team play. 4-3-3 is my favorite formation, however, as I said I usually make suitable tweaks depending on many factors.