Indian Super League side (ISL) side Kerala Blasters will play pre-season friendlies against La Liga club Girona FC and A-League side Melbourne City at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi from July 24-28.
Melbourne City FC who finished third and qualified for the final round under the tutelage of head coach Warren Joyce. in the recently concluded A-League will be a tough nut to crack for Blasters. Whereas, Girona who plies their trade in the Spanish top-flight made headlines when they defeated current European Champions Real Madrid at the Estadi Montilivi in La Liga.
La Liga ambassador and Spanish football legend Fernando Morientes unveiled the tournament trophy. On behalf of La Liga he said,” Pre-season tournaments are the best preparatory ground for a club to prepare for the season ahead. I remember how playing pre-season friendlies helped me identify the areas that I needed to work upon and be better prepared. I wish all the very best to all participating teams and am looking forward to a closely-contested tournament.”
Varun Tripuraneni, CEO, Kerala Blasters FC said,” This will be a perfect start to our pre-season preparations as we play against two international clubs of great repute. It will be atreat for the fans in Kochi and we are expecting the crowd to come out in large numbers.”
Blasters will be the second Indian club to play against a top-tier European club after Delhi Dynamos. The Delhi based franchise had played a friendly match against Premier League club West Bromwich Albion in 2016.
The David James-coached club endured a disappointing end to the 2017/18 ISL season, finishing out of the knockout spots in sixth.
Blasters have been active in the transfer market ahead of the 2018-19 season and have already roped in Keralite and Indian national team defender Anas Edathodika to cement their backline. Abdul Hakku and Zakeer Mundampara are the other Keralites to join the revamped squad.
They have also signed goalkeepers Dheeraj Singh and Naveen Kumar to replace the departing Paul Rachubka and Subhashish Roy Chowdhury. In attack, they have roped in India internationals Halicharan Narzary and Seimenlen Doungel.
Girona FC had qualified for the La Liga last season for the very first time in their 87-year-old history. In their maiden season, they finished 10th in the league.
The tickets for the tournament will start at rupees 275.