Shillong, Oct 9: Kerala Blasters began their pre-season training in Goa yesterday under assistant coach Ishfaq Ahmed.

The Indian Super League side also announced a 30-member pre-season squad that included the names of Meghalaya’s Shaiborlang Kharpan (left) and Kenstar Kharshong (right) along with Manipur’s Naorem Mahesh Singh. All three have previously played for Shillong Lajong.

Kharpan has been with the Blasters since 2018 and has played for them in the local Kerala league and national Second Division League. The closest the 25-year-old has so far come to playing in the ISL was a place on the bench in January, but he was not called on by then coach Eelco Schattorie.

Kerala are set to bring in more players but, for the moment, Kharpan is one of just three forwards in the list of 30, with Naorem and English footballer Gary Hooper being the other two.

Naorem and Kharshong were both loaned earlier this year to the KBFC reserve team that took part in the Second Division League, which was interrupted due to the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, and have now made the transfer to Kerala.

They had both played key roles in Lajong’s triumphal Shillong Premier League and Meghalaya State League campaigns last year. That success would have been even sweeter for Kharshong, who was captain of the young side.

The pair have also played in the I-League, with Kharshong making 30 appearances across two seasons and Naorem 13 in one season.

Kerala Blasters trained yesterday at the Duler Stadium and will move to Peddem Sports Complex, their official training venue, in a few days. The entirety of this ISL season will take place in Goa due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

(Shaiborlang Kharpan photo: Kerala Blasters; Kenstar Kharshong photo: TSR)
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