The team from the south, Kerala Blasters FC have named Stephan van der Heyden as their assistant coach. The announcement was made on Sunday, with Heyden taking over from Patrick Van Kets. Van Kets departed the side in October because of personal reasons.
A midfielder in his time, Stephan van der Heyden has had his fair share of experience on the pitch. As a player, he has donned the colors of Waasland-Beveren, Club Brugge, Beerschot AC and Royal Cappellen FC in Belgium.
He also played for Roda JC in the Netherlands, South Melbourne FC in Australia and LOSC Lille in France. The Belgian has even made a couple of appearances for the Belgian national teams at junior and senior stages.
He went on to retire in 2003 and return as a coach. Heyden started his coaching job at Sporting Lokeren before going back to Club Brugge. He started as a member of their scouting corps at Brugge. Come June 2013, he was appointed the club’s assistant coach and stayed with them for 4 years.
Kerala Blasters with a new outlook under Heyden
In 2017, the 52-year-old packed his bags for Macedonian outfit FK Vardar Skopje to assume a similar role, i.e assistant coach yet again. A year later, he partnered up with Jordan national team boss Vital Borkelmans as his subaltern.
As it happened, Jordan took on India in an exhibition on November 11, 2018. The Blue Tigers fell 2-1 and Nishu Kumar scored their only goal. Kumar will now be under Heyden at the side from the south.
Patrick Van Kets has been revealed to have departed the side due to an ailment. At first, he was anticipated to make a comeback to the Yellow Army. However, a substitute has stepped in and it seems likely that Van Kets will remain absent.
Words of a top official: “Stephan van der Heyden, the new assistant coach has not arrived in India yet. The club are actively working on completing his visa and travel processes. They are keen to have him with the rest of their ISL squad in Goa as soon as possible”.
A new season, a new opportunity
ISL 2021/22 kicks off in 5 days left and the Blasters are being extremely meticulous in their planning for the season. The side have played pre-season games with teams including Jamshedpur FC, Chennaiyin FC and Odisha FC. They join the line of teams who began their pre-season early on.
Kerala Blasters will be headed by boss Ivan Vukomanovic and his auxiliaries Stephan van der Heyden, Ishfaq Ahmed, Werner Martens and Slaven Progovecki. The Kochi-based side will be looking to do away with a disheartening 10th-place finish from the last campaign.
Chencho Gyeltshen, Alvaro Vazquez, Jorge Pereyra Diaz, Marko Leskovic, Adrian Luna and Enes Sipovic make up the Yellow Army’s foreign division. Other notable names include Jeakson Singh, Sahal Abdul Samad, Ayush Adhikari, Rahul KP, Harmanjot Khabra and Sandeep Singh.
Follow our Twitter for regular football updates and news.