The State Bank of Travancore (SBT) team was formed in 1986 by a few bank employees who loved playing football in their free time. The team began signing up players in the year 1993 and became part of National Football League Second Division when it was first put into practice in 1997-98. The team has shaped a lot of talents who went on to represent the Kerala state and the country at various age levels. No less than 9 Bank men have played for the senior Indian team. That list includes names like Joe Paul Anchery, NP Pradeep, Vinu Jose, KN Ajayan, Feroz Sherif, Jiju Jacob and Sunil Kumar.
The SBT team can be well thought-out as the most triumphant football team from Kerala in the recent epoch. The department team made their maiden entry into the country’s top division – the then National Football League (NFL) – in the 1999-2000 season by winning the Second Division League. The team settled for a 9th position finish in the league, but was relegated in the next year.
The Bank returned to NFL in 2004-05, but had to go back to their old ways yet again. SBT had been the winners of the Trivandrum Super Division League for 4 years in a row from 2004, but lost out to the Titanium Eleven this year by the toss of a coin!
SBT’s best performance in the Federation Cup was in 1999 when they entered the Quarter Finals of the prestigious competition. In the group stages of last year’s Federation Cup, they drew against I-League clubs, Chirag United and Mumbai FC, but lost in the crucial match against Dempo SC.
The team has only played a few friendly matches against lower oppositions during the last months. They defeated Thiruvananthapuram U-19 team twice with comfortable margins and Kerala University team with a score of 2-0.
IN: Rakesh (from KSEB)
OUT: Kannan, Sreeju, Mohammed Shafi (All to KSEB)
The State Bank team are not much active in the transfer market as they have only signed a striker Rakesh from the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) team. It is a big blow for the team that they have lost 3 of their first eleven players to the KSEB team who are now on a buying spree by signing some of the best Kerala players around.
The team is trained by the former India International, VP Shaji, for the past 2 years. He has vast experience of playing football for the SBT team (9 years) as well as the FC Kochin (4 years). He represented Kerala 9 times in the Santosh Trophy and captained the team in the 1998 edition. He was also part of the Indian team for SAFF Cup in 1994-95. The team’s impressive run last season proves that the coach is doing a good job at the club.
SBT will be once again relying on their front men Asif Saheer and Abdul Hakkim to fire in the goals for them in the Qualifying stages. Both of them have been in the team for 10 years and are hugely experienced and consistent.
SBT have only minimal injury worries in their team. Defender Johnson is the only casualty injuring himself during training and will not travel with the team to Calicut.
Goal Keepers: Harshal Rehman, Jean Christian
Defenders: Basheer, Sarath, Paul Antony, Sajith, Edison, Jose
Midfielders: Noushad, Harris, Kabir, Renil CJ, Shafi, Martin
Forwards: Abdul Hakkim, Asif Saheer, Rakesh, Mohammed Aslam
Asif Saheer, Abdul Hakkim, Renil CJ, Jean Christian (GK), Martin, Noushad
SBT will feature in the South Zone qualifying matches of Federation Cup 2009 from November 27, 2009 at Calicut. They will fight against teams like Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Malabar United and Chandni FC to win the qualifiers and put their name down for the main event which will be held in the month of December at Assam.
Later on, the team will participate in the Kerala Club Football Championship at Thrissur.
Compiled by Adwaidh R for footballkerala.com