The I-League second division, contested by 16 teams this season, is just around the corner and FootballKerala.com takes a look at the five Kerala clubs that takes part in the competition, beginning with second division debutantes Eagles FC.
Team Name: Eagles Football Club
Eagles FC, who are set to make their first attempt in the I-League second division, is a Kerala based club that can boast of a rich legacy. The ‘Ernakulam Eagles’ was formed in the year of 1955 at Cochin by a group of soccer loving students of St. Albert’s High School and NJ Joseph, their mathematics teacher and an ardent sports lover.
Fr. Varghese Chelatt, then manager of the school, became the first President of the club while an eighth standard boy named KM Imbayi Mather (currently the President of Kerala Football Association) became its secretary. Some of the other team members were Antony Kurien, CPM Sundaram, KL John, Achyutha Menon, Vayalar Ravi (Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs and Civil Aviation) and AK Antony (Minister of Defence).
Ernakulam Eagles were active until the late 1990s, but professional commitments of its members made the administration of the club difficult. The team announced their second coming in the October of 2010 as ‘Eagles Football Club’ and made it clear that they have ‘grant plans to make history in keeping with their lineage’. The team is now owned by Ziqitza Sports Management Pvt Ltd.
Based at Kochi, Eagles organised several football tournaments for the local fans, at the same time travelling to cities like Coimbatore, Madurai and Vishakapatanam to participate in well known tournaments. In 1962, the club held the first All Kerala Eagles Football Trophy and in 1965, they began Jawaharlal Nehru Football Trophy that was conducted annually till 1972. Eagles were also behind the organisation of Santosh Trophy in 1973, the first Federation Cup in 1978 and again the 1993 Santosh Trophy held in Kerala.
Last 5 matches – LWDDW
After the reorganisation, Eagles FC played at three major football championships – two Kerala State Club Championships held at Thrissur and Wayanad and the Dhronacharya Trophy 2010. The team comprising of relatively inexperienced youngsters were knocked out in the first round all the three tournaments. Their latest outing was in the Cochin Premier League where they arenow joint toppers in their group with 2 wins and 2 draws so far.
Eagles is made up of 15 young talented footballers who were selected by a selection trial. Apart from these youngsters, three players from the Mohun Bagan Football Academy were added recently. The team is also powered by the addition of experienced Ghanaian goal keeper Ali Abubakar and former Viva Kerala defender KS Firoz.
IN: Satwinder Singh, Shorabudin Mollick, Laldinmwaia C (All from Mohun Bagan Academy), KS Firoz (Viva Kerala)
The team is coached by Joe Paul Ancherry, former Mohun Bagan and East Bengal player and twice the recipient of the AIFF Player of the Year award. As a player, Ancheri needs no introductions. The 35 year old from Thrissur has been the coach of the Mohun Bagan Football Academy, a residential football school in Durgapur in West Bengal for over a year.
Ancheri has only been at the club for three weeks, while Vinu Jose, another ex-Indian International has been coaching the team for the past six months. Vinu will assist Ancheri and the player-cum-coach might be on the pitch for the team.
The late additions former FC Cochin goal keeper Ali Abubaker and midfielders Shorabudin and Laldinmwaia from the Mohun Bagan Academy has strengthened the side. KS Firoz from Viva Kerala might captain the team in the tournament. The biggest strength for the team comes from the guidance of the vastly experienced Joe Paul Ancheri.
The team is also waiting for a pair of foreign forwards to join the team. Paperwork regarding their transfers are being done and the coach expects that the African forwards will join them in the coming days.
The Eagles FC is a group of young amateur footballers who were selected six months aiming to reach new heights in Kerala Football. But, the second division seems like a challenge that has come quite early for their liking.
Goal Keepers: Ali Abubakar (Ghana), Saji Joy, Jaseer Mohammad
Defenders: Sanid E, Sreekumar P, KS Firoz, Roomimg KP, Abdul Abhithin TS, Sudheer PT, Dhanesh PT, Satwinder Singh
Midfielders: Anas Ibnu Salam, Ignatius B, Shameel P, Farhad Kalayath, Vineeth TV, Askar AA, Shorabudin Mollick, Laldinmwaia C
Forwards: Febin M, Sumesh AM, Vinu Jose
Head Coach: Joe Paul Ancheri
Assistant Coach: Vinu Jose
Team Manager: Ponnan
Physio: Dr. Danny
Saji Joy, the team’s first choice goal keeper is a former Kerala Santosh Trophy player and has played for clubs like FC Cochin and Vasco SC. Striker Sumesh will be another key who will be expected to score some goals in the league. He played for the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) last season. Shorabudhin Mollick who shined for the club in the Cochin Premier League is another impressive player.
Eagles FC will have their I-League Second Division group league matches played at Madurai in Tamil Nadu from 31st March.The team is pitted with another Kerala club Chandni FC, Vasco SC, Techno Aryan FC, PIFA Colaba FC, Royal Wahingdoh and BEML.
March 31, 2011 – Eagles FC vs Techno Aryan FC
April 3, 2011 – Eagles FC vs PIFA Colaba FC
April 6, 2011 – Eagles FC vs Chandni FC
April 8, 2011 – BEML vs Eagles FC
April 11, 2011 – Vasco Sports Club vs Eagles FC
April 14, 2011 – Royal Wahingdoh vs Eagles FC
Venue: Madurai, Tamil Nadu
Adwaidh Rajan writes for FootballKerala.com