ISL 2018-19: Kerala Blasters' Halicharan Narzary to follow CK Vineeth to Chennaiyin FC?
Indian national football team winger Halicharan Narzary is the latest player involved in the exodus from Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League (ISL). The 24-year-old Assamese attacker may be roped in by ISL holders Chennaiyin FC for the remainder of the season on loan.
Chennaiyin FC have already set their sights on Narzary's teammate CK Vineeth, keeping in mind their campaign in the AFC Cup. Having already fallen out of the contention for a spot in the ISL playoffs, Chennaiyin FC look to salvage the season by ensuring that they at least make the knockouts of the AFC Cup, the continent's equivalent of the Europa League.
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In 12 appearances for Blasters this season, Narzary has scored once and assisted once. These are not exactly impressive numbers for the winger but it's probably because he couldn't do well in sacked coach David James' system at Blasters.
Chennaiyin FC's fortunes this season suffered a blow because of the poor display of their attackers. Jeje Lalpekhlua only recently scored for the Indian national football team in the Asian Cup but he has zero goals in the ISL.
Carlos Salom, the Palestinian who fits into Chennaiyin FC's Asian player quota for the AFC Cup, has scored just once. Thoi Singh has accounted for four of Chennaiyin FC's 13 goals.
Kerala Blasters, who also have no chance of making the ISL playoffs, are looking to hand youngsters a chance for the rest of the season. They have already roped in Nongdamba Naorem from Minerva Punjab and are close to signing Baoringdao Bodo on loan from Gokulam Kerala.
They already have youngsters like Jeakson Singh and Prasanth K waiting in their ranks. Sahal Abdul Samad too has been a revelation this season for Blasters.
Blasters, meanwhile, are loaning out most of their expensive players like Vineeth and defenders Sandesh Jhingan and Anas Edathodika to other clubs. Jhingan is close to joining ATK on loan, while Anas has attracted interest from FC Pune City.
John Gregory's Chennaiyin FC still have to play eight matches when the second phase of the ISL kicks off at the end of January. Chennaiyin FC are scheduled to feature in a two-legged playoff fixture in March to make Group E of the AFC Cup 2019.
The playoff is against the winner of the tie between Colombo FC of Sri Lanka and Transport United of Bhutan. Chennaiyin FC's two-legged qualifier is scheduled for March 6 (away) and March 13 (home).
Group E features Abahani Dhaka of Bangladesh and Menang Marshyangdi Club from Nepal and could also feature Minerva Punjab if the I-League club fails to get past Saipa FC in their AFC Champions League qualifier.
Kerala Blasters are eighth on the table with nine points in 12 matches. Bottom-placed Chennaiyin FC have just five points.