Jali: The orchestrator behind FC Thrissur’s Leicester saga

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We have been quite familiar with Leicester saga recently, drawing inspiration and confidence from the champions of England , many teams went on to emulate them. This season’s I-League also witnessed such a phenomenon, when Khalid Jamil’s Aizawl FC went on to clinch the championship title with a meagre budget.

Here’s another story from God’s own country which require a special mention. The story is about Jali P Ibrahim and his FC Thrissur team who went on to reach the finals of Kerala premier league beating all odds.

What makes his achievement so special ?

FC Thrissur and Jali came to Kerala premier League with raw talents , who’s professional bout was only playing in Inter collegiate tournament’s. Within least time , he build a team enough to compete against big teams.

The teams total budget was less than eleven lakhs including the kit expenses that too coupled with the fact that Jali is only an AIFF D license holder makes his achievement as something which require a special mention.

Who is Jali?

Himself an athlete, who outperformed in the track events for calicut university. Jali broke several sprint records in the tracks and brought home a handful of medals as an athlete. But football was the sport which excited him the most, to show his love for the game , he started a football coaching camp for kids around his region. He combined the principles of athletics and fitness in his football camps and helped in nurturing talented footballer.

Jali P Ibrahim

Two of Kerala’s best young talents,Ashkar and Atif blossomed under his shadows. His coaching ideas are different from others, Jali keeps a proper profile of his players understanding their strengths and weaknesses.He also designed a nutrition habit for his players, to keep them healthy and fit throughout their season.

Making of MD college football team

Jali took over MD College’s coaching role four year ago, back then the state of college team was miserable. The college authorities had full confidence in him and decided not to interfere in his jurisdiction , he was given full right to implement his philosophy.

Jali took over MD college’s coaching role along with VB Mohandas helping him in managing players. The college team began to show slow but steady progress under the new mentor.In the very first year MD College was crowned as Thrissur B Division champions.They also went on to win the prestigious Mar Baselious trophy by beating tournament favourites Baselious college in the finals.

As years passed Jali’s magic formula started working as the team brought more honours to the college. MD college finished as second runners up in Thrissur super division the very next year. Their steady performances in various tournament’s helped them to obtain a wild card entry to Goal Inter collegiate tournament ( conducted by Indian Express Daily in association with TVS ) , and went on to reach the prequarter’s of the competition. More and more honours began flowing in as the college team improved day by day. Mean while MD college won the Thrissur A division league with a small team.

MD college differs from other college teams by a mile or more. They emphasis on developing and scouting players from the surrounding regions of college. Last year the college team went on to reach the finals of Goal tournament but were unable to grab the title.

MD college to FC Thrissur

MD college under Jali passed out every test in flying colours and began to get admirers around the district. Impressed by the performances of the college team, the promoters of FC Thrissur contacted Jali to field a team in Kerala premier League 2017.The newly formed club from Thrissur had full confidence in Jalikka and his philosophy.

He started building the squad with players from MD college forming the core part of the team, along with 2-3 experienced footballers including Owais Khan, PT Somy , Rajesh from Railways and Sebin Varghese from Maharashtra.They were instrumental in FCT’s performance in kerala Premier league.

Kerala Premier league’s very own Leicester

FC Thrissur were drawn in a group consisting of heavyweights from Kerala including SBI ( SBT , which was later renamed to SBI following merger),AG’s , Central Excise and Kerala police. In other words they were drawn in death group and no one expected them to go beyond group stage.The early signs from the league wasn’t favourable as FCT lost their opening match to SAT Tirur.


But Jali and his team was never intended to bow down without a fight, he had confidence in his players which coupled with his magic formula brought the team back to winning ways.FCT then went in for a dream run, which ended by securing their semi final berth.

They went six games unbeaten and lost only once in their next nine games of the group.In the exciting semi finals of the league FCT went on to face star studded Gokulam FC with Bello Rasaq and Sushanth Mathew leading the squad. His side went on to secure a draw and grabbed the victory and final berth in tie breakers.

In the finals FC Thrissur played against a strong KSEB side without their key player Sebin. His absence was clearly visible in the team as Jali’s side lost to KSEB for a score of 4-2. Though KSEB ended their quest for glory in the finals, FCT’s second place finish with a mean budget and a small squad require great appreciation.

Luck extended a helping hand?

FCT’s performances in the league wasn’t due to luck, but because of sheer hard work and determination shown by the coach as well as the players. Jali attended training sessions of all the opponents in the league and had a clear picture of the strengths and weaknesses of opponents. He designed his tactics against different teams based on these observations.


He had a clear picture of his opponents and did his homework well , which helped the team to outperform against tournament favorite’s. Describing their achievement as luck would be a humiliation for his efforts.

What makes Jali so special?

Jali’s philosophy and vision is much different from others, he focuses on overall development of players rather than on results. He applies professionalism and scientific methods in his training regime, which helped his players a lot. Jali is among the elite category of coaches ,who maintains a proper player profile regarding players strengths and weaknesses.

Jali P Ibrahim

His emphasis is on making the best out of his players and ensures development of players through Quality Processing. He designed a special nutrition and training habits for them , to help them keep healthy and fit.

His qualification and experience as a footballer might not be on par with other coaches , but his knowledge and ability to mould a team and guide them to success is second to none. We need coaches like Jali who can make best out of talents from the country.