Indian Super League franchise Kerala Blasters announced today that Antonio German and Josué Currais Prieto will return to play for the team in the upcoming third edition of the Indian Super League and joining them would be Indian teammates Sandesh Jhingan, Sandip Nandy, Mohammed Rafi, Mehtab Hossain, Ishfaq Ahmed and Gurwinder Singh.
Antonio German found the back of the net six times in nine appearances last season and will look to take the momentum forward into the upcoming season along with his team mates. Antonio German played in the lower divisions of English football, playing for clubs such as Queens Park Rangers, Southend United and Northampton Town. He is a versatile player with quick feet who is equally effective as a winger and as a striker.
Josué Currais Prieto, also known as Josu, the midfielder from FC Barcelona’s famed “La Masia” Academy is known for his technique and playmaking abilities. From the Barcelona youth teams, Josu played with Spanish club Olot before going on to play in Finland, Italy and Poland. While he played for most of his youth career as a defender it was in Finland on his coach’s advice that he started to play as a creative midfielder, a move that has paid off for him.
Mohammed Rafi, the mercurial striker from Kasargod in Kerala has four goals from nine appearances in the Indian Super League. The former Indian striker shares the record of being the highest Indian goalscorer ever in the NFL/I-League along with Baichung Bhutia and Sunil Chhetri with 14 goals in the 2009/10 season, a feat that saw him adjudged as FPAI’s Player of the Year.
Defender Sandesh Jhingan’s stellar ISL performances prompted a call up to the national team and the young footballer has already racked up 11 international caps. He was also named the Emerging Player of the Tournament in the inaugural ISL. Sandesh’s strength and ability to deal with aerial balls, and his calmness in a high pressure situation make him a valuable addition to the team.
Seasoned Sandip Nandy is again going to be the goalkeeper for Kerala Blasters and is known as the team’s ‘silent guardian’. His successful professional career for both club and country began with his winning debut for Mohun Bagan in 1999. He has played for various clubs including Tollygunge Agragami, East Bengal, Mahindra United and Chirag United. The much-decorated goalkeeper was adjudged the best goalkeeper at the prestigious 2003 ASEAN Club Championship. In the last season of ISL, Nandy had an impressive save percentage of 86.66%.
Mehtab Hossain is one of the kingpins of Indian football having played for both club and country. A quiet man off the field, the defensive midfielder is known to completely change once he wears his football boots, fearing no one on the field. He has been voted FPAI Best Indian Player of the Season, Best Midfielder, and Fans Player of the Year. Mehtab will be hoping to improve on the nine outings he had for the Blasters last season.
A product of the JCT Academy, central defender Gurwinder Singh started his career with JCT in 2004. He has been a consistent performer on the domestic circuit playing for East Bengal. He earned a call up to the Indian National Football team preparatory camp in 2011. An excellent team man, his club level international experience will come in handy for the team in the current season.
Ishfaq Ahmed began his professional career with Bengaluru’s HAL, excelling in his first season. He then went on to represent clubs like Dempo, Mohun Bagan, Salgaocar, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting, winning several honours and titles. The versatile winger with good dribbling skills has the ability to fit into any position across the midfield. Ahmed featured a total of nine times for the Blasters last year.
Kerala Blasters CEO Viren D’Silva said, “We are happy to welcome Antonio German, Josu Currais Preito, Sandesh Jhingan, Sandip Nandy, Mohammed Rafi, Mehtab Hossain and Gurwinder Singh back into the Kerala Blasters family!”