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Indian Football Team of the Year 2020 – Left back: Kerala Blasters’ Jessel Carneiro

Indian Football Team of the Year 2020 – Left back: Kerala Blasters’ Jessel Carneiro

Sayan Chatterjee

Published: 31 Dec 2020 1:45 PM GMT

To say that Kerala Blasters’ 2019-20 Indian Super League (ISL) campaign was disappointing would be an understatement. The Tuskers failed to qualify for the playoffs and finished lowly 9th in the points table even after having one of the strongest squads on paper. However, the season was at the same time a coming-of-age story for left-back Jessel Carneiro.

The Goan defender joined the side ahead of the 2019-20 campaign following impressive performances for Dempo SC. In an injury-ravaged season for Eelco Schattorie’s men, Carneiro made 18 appearances all season, the most in the squad. He also had the most number of passes in a side packed with talented midfielders at a passing accuracy of nearly 73%. If that wasn’t enough, he assisted five goals, joint-highest by a defender alongside ATK’s Prabir Das.


A late entrant to the ISL at 28 after pushing on from a number of injuries and subsequent rejection, Carneiro has seen it all. He has played most of his football in the Goa Professional League before Kerala came calling. His performances last season saw him sign a new three-year contract with the club, something that he truly cherishes. “I aim to be a part of the team when the club lifts their first ISL trophy. Kerala Blasters FC gave me an opportunity to prove myself and I hope to put in my best,” he had said then.

Now 30, he has started the 2020-21 season strongly as well amidst another underwhelming start by his side overall. The Tuskers have just 6 points from 7 matches and lie 9th in the table but Carneiro has again been one of the saving graces for his side. He has featured in all seven matches so far and has 14 tackles, 19 interceptions and 10 blocks against his name. Extremely tidy on the ball, he also has nearly 70% pass completion playing in a side that has lacked confidence in defence.

Having had injuries to both his knees and overcome them through sheer determination and will power, Carneiro is an example of how a model professional should be. Modest and humble, he is a hard worker who has achieved his dreams just by not giving up on them. A fantastic player and a national team prospect if he keeps up his touch, he is our choice for The Bridge’s Indian Team of the Year 2020 in the left back position.

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