Favorites Kerala host AP in SZ opener

KOCHI: Kerala they are direct favorites that come into the Santosh Trophy south zone qualifiers that begin at the Corporation Stadium in Kozhikode on Tuesday. Given Kerala 's firepower and relative pedigree in the competition, their opponents for the opener, Andhra Pradesh I should be worried.

But Kerala head coach Bino George knows too well they cannot take any side lightly especially after the state failed to qualify for the finals last season, close on the heels of their title-winning campaign. The former Gokulam Kerala The coach has urged his boys to be aggressive from the start in their Group A match.

Andhra cannot be taken lightly, but we also have to do our job and the only way to do it is to write down as soon as possible and then take advantage of that momentum, Bino said on the eve of the game.

Kerala captained by Santosh Trophy -winning goalkeeper Midhun V are expecting Andhra to defend deep. "We are prepared and that means it is not just the strikers who need to have an eye for the goal but every member on the pitch," Bino George said. "That's right," said Midhun. "We know that could be the approach from most of the teams, to frustrate us so we have to break the deadlock quickly," said the SBT custodian who starred in Kerala 's thrilling shootout win over Kolkata in the 2017-18 final.

Andhra's head coach Deena Bandhu Raj expects his team to have the right combination of experience and ambition to annoy the favorites. They are a tough team, but we have a team that has a mix of youth and experience. The last two days we have been training here and I am supporting my boys to do well, he said. Midfielder Sabbavarapu Ganesh Kumar is the captain of Andhra.

Tamil Nadu is the third side in Group A while Pondicherry , Karnataka and Telangana form Group B. The qualifiers in the southern zone will be completed on November 10.