The previous season of the Indian Super League witnessed a few lacklustre performances from Kerala Blasters. Although Bartholomew Ogbeche scored 15 goals and got the golden boot, the defence looked porous and conceded several goals, especially with Sandesh Jhingan out with injury.
This time around, however, there has been a complete overhaul. The rebuild has been painful, especially following the loss of their stalwart Jhingan. Kerala Blasters have signed a few Indian players, who are now expected to shoulder the responsibility of taking the team to the title.
Let's take a look at three Indian players who will be key for the Kerala Blasters this season.
1) Nishu Kumar
When Nishu Kumar signed with the club, he was effectively the highest-paid footballer in the league, until Sandesh Jhingan signed with ATK Mohun Bagan. However, the 23-year-old, who arrived from Bengaluru FC in July, will have the spotlight on him.
Nishu is a supremely capable full-back who can play on the left and right, and can also play as a wing-back. He is viewed as the successor to the recently-departed Jhingan, and will have a mountain of expectations on his shoulders. Coach Kibu Vicuna will have a lot of expectations from the 23-year-old for the upcoming season of the ISL.
2) Sahal Abdul Samad
Youngster Sahal Abdul Samad is considered the future of Indian football. Since he entered the Kerala Blasters' side, the 23-year-old has been a mainstay in the midfield. A few of his performances have led to a call-up from the Indian team as well, an opportunity he has grabbed with both hands.
Samad will be hoping to recapture some form he showed in his breakthrough 2018-19 season. He will be the key for the club in midfield as the start of the ISL campaign beckons.
3) Bilal Khan
The previous ISL season witnessed Bilal Khan start as backup to first-choice keeper TP Rehenesh. With Rehenesh making a plethora of mistakes between the sticks, Bilal got the chance to showcase his abilities as he made five appearances during the course of the season. He made his debut in the 2019-20 season against ATK, a match that witnessed the Kerala Blasters secure a rare 2-1 victory.
However, this time around, with Rehenesh making the move to Jamshedpur FC, 26-year-old Bilal Khan is the first choice keeper.Published 10 Oct 2020, 15:09 IST