Kochi: Gean Christian will lead Kerala in the South Zone qualifying round of the 68th Santosh Trophy National Football Championship, starting in Chennai from January 26.
The 20-member squad has eight new faces, Kerala Football Association General Secretary P Anil Kumar told reporters here.
The South Zone qualifying matches of the Santosh Trophy will be held in Chennai from January 26 to February 3. The final round of the tournament will be held at Siliguri, West Bengal from February 24 to March 9.
The team will leave for Chennai on January 22.
Five-time champions and current runners-up Kerala will take on hosts Tamil Nadu on January 26. Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Andaman Nicobar and Puducherry are the other teams.
The other teams are in the South Zone qualifying round are Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Maharashtra, Goa and Andamans and Nicobar Islands.
Former Kerala coach Peethambaran, former international Jiju Jacob and S Geevarghese were the selectors.
Initially, 65 players were selected in the coaching camp at Thiruvananthapuram. Later, 30 players were eliminated and three of them were not considered due to injuries. They include last year`s captain Rahul and key player Sumesh.
Kerala had won the Santosh Trophy in 1973 in Cochin, 1991 in Coimbatore, 1992 in Cochin, 2001-02 in Mumbai, and in Delhi in 2003.
Kerala had finished runners up last year in Kochi following a penalty shoot-out against Services.
The Squad: Jean Christian (captain) and R Kannan (vice-captain) Noufal N, Nishad P P (goalkeepers); Sherin Sam, Surjith V V, Johnson N, Anagh B K,Shaji A, Lijo S, Sanjith T (all defenders), Shibinlal V K, Jipson Justus, K P Anish, Jijo Joseph, Prasoon R, Prameesh K V, (Midfielders), Usman P, Suhair V P, Nasaraudheen Cheriyath, R Kannan (Forwards);
Reserves: Sateesh R (Defender), Praveen Kumar A (Midfielder) Mohammed Aslam, (Forward) and Abdul Rahiman (Midfielder).