ISL 2020-21 Kerala Blasters Preview: With Fresh Blood and I-League-winning Coach, New Project Begins

ISL 2020-21 Kerala Blasters Preview: With Fresh Blood and I-League-winning Coach, New Project Begins

Kerala Blasters FC will begin their Indian Super League 2020-21 season without the man who had been their face in the past years. With Sandesh Jhingan’s move to ATK Mohun Bagan and Bartholomew Ogbeche signing with Mumbai City FC, Kerala Blasters will have a whole new look when they step on to the pitch in Goa. The Blasters mostly end up being the under-achievers but the management has gone hard this time to make some exciting signings and get up a strong unit.

Kerala Blasters are known to have their infamous Manjappada behind them in the stadiums. Due to the

coronavirus

situation and the entire league being played in Goa, the fans won’t be there to cheer the team this time around. However, the club would want to put a smile on the faces of their fans in these difficult times with some worthy performances.

STRENGTH

Kerala Blasters’ strength is likely to lie in their defence. The Kochi-based outfit have scooped up Nishu Kumar from Bengaluru FC in a deal that makes him the second-highest paid Indian defender. Nishu was crucial in the full-back position for Bengaluru FC and said that the Blasters management convinced him that he was pivotal to their new project.

Apart from Nishu, they have signed the experienced centre back in Costa Nhamoinesu, who has the distinction of having the most number of appearances at Sparta Prague as a foreign player. He is strong in the air and his physical strength makes him a solid presence inside the box at both ends. He is also likely to be one of the leaders on the pitch.

To complement Nhamoinesu, Kerala Blasters have also got Bakary Kone, a former Lyon defender. Not only is Kone a Coupe de France winner with Lyon, he brings with himself the UEFA Champions League experience as well.

WEAKNESS

Kerala Blasters’ weakness can be the imbalance in their midfield. Apart from Vicente Gomez, they lack a high-quality holding midfielder. Apart from Gomez, the only notable name would be Jeakson Singh’s in that department. There is a barrage of attacking midfielders with Kerala Blasters in Sahal Abdul Samad, Puitea, Rahul KP, Nongdamba Naorem, Sergio Cidoncha and Facundo Pereyra but they can struggle when it would come to providing some cover to the defence.

ISL 2019-20 PERFORMANCE

Last year, Kerala Blasters finished seventh in the league table with just four wins from their 18 games. They accounted for seven draws and seven losses. Last year, they had Ogbeche in their ranks, who was joint-highest scorer with 15 goals while Rapahel Messi Bouli also netted eight goals for them. Kerala Blasters were also down the ranking in the clean sheets department.

MOST NOTABLE NEW SIGNINGS

One of the most notable of their signings is Nishu, who left Bengaluru FC to be a part of the Kochi-based outfit. Nishu is expected to be a valuable asset for the team as left back as he can contribute well to both the defence and attack. Apart from him, Kerala have assimilated a pretty impressive foreign contingent. The signing of Naorem from Mohun Bagan is also extremely exciting as the player has followed the coach from Kolkata to Kerala.

HISTORY IN ISL

Kerala Blasters are two-time runners-up of the ISL, having lost both times to ATK (now re-christened as ATK Mohun Bagan after merger with Mohun Bagan). Apart from the 2014 and 2016 seasons of notable performances, Kerala have failed to qualify for the playoffs in all the other seasons, putting up underwhelming performances.

CHANCES/PREDICTION IN IPL 2020

Kerala Blasters are going into the season with a fresh look and despite the imbalance in their midfield, they can be expected to pose a good challenge. Surely, there are far stronger teams than them on paper but Kerala Blasters can be expected to finish fifth, just outside the playoffs spot, given the good mix of youth and experience they have.

SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Albino Gomes, Bilal Khan, Prabhsukhan Singh Gill, Muheet Shabir Khan

Defenders: Costa Nhamoinesu, Jessel Carneiro, Bakary Kone, Nishu Kumar, Lalruatthara, Abdul Hakku, Sandeep Singh, Denechandra Meitei

Midfielders: Sahal Abdul Samad, Vicente Gomez Umpierrez, Rahul KP, Lalthathanga Khawlhring, Givson Moirangthem, Jeakson Singh, Sergio Cidoncha, Arjun Jayaraj, Facundo Pereyra, Nongdamba Naorem, Seityasen Singh, Prasanth K, Rohit Kumar, Ritwik Das, Ayush Adhikari, Muktasana Sharma

Forwards: Gary Hooper, Jordan Murray, Shaiborlang Kharpan, Naorem Mahesh