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ISL 2019-20, Kerala Blasters vs ATK: 3 reasons why the Blasters won

ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
21 Oct 2019, 11:37 IST

Bartholomew Ogbeche scored two goals that sealed the game for his side
Bartholomew Ogbeche scored two goals that sealed the game for his side

Post the glitz and glamour of the opening ceremony, the sixth season of the Indian Super League, ISL 2019/20 got underway with the home side Kerala Blasters taking on two-time champions ATK at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi.

Having endured a poor run in the previous edition, Kerala Blasters came into this season with a reshuffled squad under new coach Eelco Schattorie. The Dutchman, who had a scintillating spell at NorthEast United looked to raise the yellow brigade above the miseries of the last season as Kerala came into this match having strengthened their squad with the likes of Bartholomew Ogbeche, Mario Arques, Sergio Cidoncha among other promising names.

ATK, on the other hand, had had a story with close resemblance to that of Kerala Blasters after settling for a sixth-place finish in the 2018-19 season. ATK were also under the guidance of Antonio Habas, a familiar face who had helped the Kolkata side win the title in the inaugural season of the league. Also making the news for ATK was the introduction of players like the A-league top scorer Roy Krishna, David Williams, Micheal Soosairaj, Joby Justin, and other promising talents.

With a head to head record of five wins to two wins in favour of ATK, the clash promised to be a mouth-watering encounter to kickstart the 2019-20 season.

At the blow of the whistle, ATK opened the scoring courtesy a volley from centre-back Carl McHugh finding the back of the net that put ATK 1-0 up in the game, with the goal also recorded as the fastest goal in the inaugural match of the league’s history.

Kerala soon followed up with persistent attacks on goal and managed to break through twice before halftime, both scored by Captain Bartholomew Ogbeche, giving Blasters the lead at the break. The second half saw its fair share of attacks on both goals, but neither side managed to get the better of each other’s defence. With no goals scored in the second half, the match ended in a 2-1 win for the Blasters, their first against ATK in Kochi since 2016.

The game had its fair share of moments and here are the three reasons why Kerala won the game.


#3 Blasters defenders stand tall in absence of Sandesh Jhingan

Despite conceding one goal to ATK, the Blasters defenders looked solid
Despite conceding one goal to ATK, the Blasters defenders looked solid

The Kerala Blasters were dealt a massive blow ahead of the start of the campaign when their star defender Sandesh Jhingan was ruled out of the entire season after injuring himself in a friendly against NorthEast United. The absence of Jhingan did leave a big dent in Eelco Schattorie’s plans, but it seems the Blasters have been able to figure out a way to consolidate their defense.

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In the absence of Jhingan, Eelco Schattorie started with an expected line-up of Jario and Gianni Zuiverloon at the center, with Mohammad Rakip and Jessel Carneiro covering the wings. Even though the Blasters received an early blow with McGuh’s goal in the 6th minute of the game, they were able to recover well for the rest of the match, especially in the second half. The ATK attack did pose a number of challenges but the defensive unit was able to deal with it well to prevent any loss of points from the game.

Although they would consider themselves a bit lucky to have gotten away with a couple of controversial decisions by the referee, at the end of it, they would be really happy to be able to hold a lethal ATK attack at bay.

The backline would really want to consolidate their partnership in the coming matches as it will be really intriguing to see how Schattorie manages to draw top performance from his defenders, especially in tough fixtures like Bengaluru and Goa.

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