For a football club with the pedigree of the Kerala Blasters, the 2019-20 Indian Super League (ISL) season was something of a washout. With just four wins to their name, the Kerala-based outfit managed finished 7th in the table.
However, despite all this, there were indeed a few positives in the form of Bartholomew Ogbeche. The 35-year-old Nigerian smashed home 15 goals in just 19 appearances.
Fast forward to the 2020-21 season, and the Kerala Blasters have opted for a fresh approach. After having appointed Kibu Vicuna, the team's intent to perform has been established with a few signings as well.
With the likes of Gary Hooper and Vicente Gomez in the squad, Kerala Blasters fans will certainly be hoping that their side is unstoppable this season. Let's take a look at four reasons why they will do well in the upcoming season.
1) A ground-up rebuild
The last two seasons have been quite disappointing for the average Kerala Blasters fan. With two wins in the 2018-19 season and four in the 2019-20 season, the Blasters' management has opted for a ground-up rebuild.
There has also been collateral damage in the form of Bartholomew Ogbeche, their top-scorer from the previous season, who has also been let go by the club.
The likes of Halicharan Nazary and Mohammad Rafi have also departed along with club legend and stalwart Sandesh Jhingan. However, despite all this, the signing of Vicente Gomez has added a much-needed solidity to the defensive unit while 32-year-old Gary Hooper is almost certain to score goals at will.
This would probably be the core of the team that Kibu Vicuna is looking to build to sustain the Kerala Blasters for the next few seasons at the very least.
2) The Kibu Vicuna factor
One of the first few appointments in the club this season was that of head coach Kibu Vicuna. The Spaniard's entry into the ISL comes following a highly successful season with Mohun Bagan as the Mariners concluded their stay in the I-League with a title, and more importantly, with Vicuna at the helm.
It would seem from the outset that Vicuna prefers continuity when it comes to managing players and teams over a longer period of time. With Kerala Blasters having fallen short of the ISL title since the inception of the league, Vicuna could very well be the answer to their prayers.
Evidence of the Spaniard's ability can be found in the fact that he has already managed to make a few high-profile signings in the transfer window thus far.
3) The new signings
While the loss of Sandesh Jhingan is certainly a blow to the defensive unit of the Blasters' side, reinforcements have been made in the form of Vicente Gomez and Nishu Kumar.
In fact, the latter has become one of the highest-paid players to join the Kerala-based outfit following his transfer from Bengaluru FC.
In addition to this, the signing of Gary Hooper from the Australian league is a major boost in attack, following the departure of Bartholomew Ogbeche. Hooper has plied his trade in the Premier League and has also played in both UEFA club competitions. He will be joined in attack by Facundo Pereyra, another new signing for the season.
4) The fabled 12th man
Although the ISL will be played behind closed doors this season, fans will continue to be there for the team every step of the way. Over the years, the Kerala Blasters have managed to build one of the biggest fanbases in the ISL with hundreds and thousands of faithful fans flocking to the stadium each time their team plays.
Despite not being there physically to watch the matches, it appears the fabled 12th man of the Kerala Blasters will be on social media cheering their team and giving them immense confidence as they aim for a trophy-laden 2020-21 season.Published 06 Oct 2020, 20:39 IST