The Kerala Blasters and ATK Mohun Bagan will kick off the 2020-21 Indian Super League on Friday with all the Covid-19 protocols in place. Although Antonio Lopez Habas guided ATK to the title last season, the amalgamation of ATK and Mohun Bagan will now mean that things will be a little different for the reigning champions.
Having had a couple of disappointing seasons, the Kerala Blasters have also gone through a tectonic shift with their entire overseas roster being replaced. A few youngsters such as Rahul KP, Bilal Khan and Sahal Abdul Samad, however, have managed to keep their place in the squad. With both teams undergoing fundamental changes ahead of the season, there couldn't be a more exciting opening fixture.
Kibu Vicuna, the head coach of the Kerala Blasters, went on to state in the pre-match press conference that his side was ready to take on ATK Mohun Bagan. Vicuna also said that it would be the Blasters vs ATKMB rather than Vicuna vs Habas, referring to the time when Vicuna was head coach of the Mohun Bagan side that lifted the I-League title last season.
The biggest talking point for the opening fixture will be the presence of Sandesh Jhingan on the field of play. The 27-year-old previously played for Kerala Blasters before making the switch to ATK Mohun Bagan.
Kerala Blasters vs ATK Mohun Bagan - All you need to know
ATK vs Kerala Blasters head-to-head
Since the inception of the ISL, Kerala Blasters and ATK have faced each other on 14 occasions, including the 2014 and the 2016 ISL finals won by ATK. In the head-to-head record, the two teams have four wins each while six games ended in draw.
This will be the first time Kerala Blasters face ATK Mohun Bagan. In the context of the I-League, Mohun Bagan have the second-most league victories with 41 wins in 107 matches - a win-rate of 38 per cent.
Incidentally, the last three seasons of the Indian Super League have opened with the fixture between Kerala Blasters and ATK.
Results of last five ISL matches between ATK and Kerala Blasters
Incidentally, the last time ATK defeated the Kerala Blasters was on the 18th of December 2016 at the ISL final. Since then the Blasters have played ATK in six ISL matches, winning three and drawing three.
ATK 0-1 Kerala Blasters - 12 Jan 2020
Kerala Blasters 2-1 ATK - 20 Oct 2019
Kerala Blasters 1-1 ATK - 25 Jan 2019
ATK 0-2 Kerala Blasters - 29 Sept 2018
ATK 2-2 Kerala Blasters - 8 Feb 2018
Top 3 goalscorers from last season
ATK - Roy Krishna (15), David Williams (7), Edu Garcia (6)
Kerala Blasters - Bartholomew Ogbeche (15), Messi Bouli (14), Rahul KP (1)
Mohun Bagan (I-League) - Papa Diawara (10), Francisco Gonzalez Munoz (10), Joseba Beitia (3)
Most clean sheets from last season
ATK - 5
Kerala Blasters - 3
Mohun Bagan (I-League) - 8Published 20 Nov 2020, 12:57 IST