Indian Super League (ISL) side Kerala Blasters have a history of failing at the penultimate moments on the big stage. The Kochi-based side boasts of one of the biggest fanbases in the country but has never managed to make justice to their amazing fanbase.
The Blasters have gone through a major managerial, scouting and budget revamp for the 2020-21 season and will be a force to reckon with under I-League-winning manager Kibu Vicuna. They have one of the finest Indian rosters in the league with lots of experience in their foreign contingent.
How will Kerala Blasters line up?
Goalkeeper: Albino Gomes
Kerala Blasters have a decent depth in the goalkeeping department. They have the likes of Bilal Khan, Albino Gomes and Prabhsukhan Gill in their ranks, who have ample amount of experience of keeping goals in the top tier of Indian football. However, Albino Gomes may just get the go-ahead of others to be the No. 1 for Kerala Blasters due to a slight edge in terms of ISL experience.
Defense: Nishu Kumar, Bakary Kone, Costa Nhamoinesu, Jessel Carneiro
Kerala Blasters' big-money signing, Nishu Kumar from Bengaluru FC is a default option as the right-back in the defense. The central defense will be guarded by experienced and sturdy defenders like Costa Nhamoinesu and Bakary Kone.
The Zimbabwean and Burkinabe defenders have loads of experience in the upper strata of European club football in the recent few years. It will bolster the defensive unit of Kibu Vicuna's side.
Jessel Carneiro is expected to start as the first choice in the left full-back position. Carneiro was arguably the best player in the Kerala Blasters setup in the 2019-20 season, and will be hoping to continue the same form of play.
Midfield: Jeakson Singh, Vicente Gomez, Nongdamba Naorem, Facundo Pereyra, Rahul KP
An essentially 4-5-1 formation may shift to a standard 4-2-3-1 formation as the game progresses if Jeakson Singh and Vicente Gomez start the games together.
Jeakson Singh has the unique record of scoring the first and only goal for India in any FIFA World Cup event. He is expected to be given an ample amount of game time in the central defensive midfield region.
He could be accompanied by the highly experienced Spanish central defensive midfielder Vicente Gomez behind the midfield. Both Singh and Gomez will have the role to sweep up the midfield and form the basis of play for Kerala Blasters.
The central midfield will be led by the Argentine Facundo Pereyra. He has been touted as one of the biggest new signings in the Indian Super League 2020-21.
Pereyra will be tasked with forming a triangle with wingers Nongdamba Naorem and Rahul KP on either sides. The youngsters have been impressive over the years and may as well be regular starters for Kerala Blasters. Additionally, Facundo Pereyra may also act as a second striker upfront, which will require Vicente Gomez to play the role of holding the play in the midfield.
Forward: Gary Hooper
The experienced English striker arriving at Kerala Blasters from Wellington Phoenix is one of the most valuable players in the upcoming ISL edition. Hooper's goal-scoring ability will be crucial for Kerala Blasters. He has been a regular scorer for all his previous sides and will be looking to continue the same in India.
Hooper scored 9 goals, and assisted 5 other goals in the 2019-20 Australian football season. Hooper's aerial ability will also be pivotal to Kerala's success from the set-pieces.Published 11 Nov 2020, 21:10 IST