Kerala Blasters are rebuilding once again under Ivan Vukomanovic, their new head coach and the Serbian has brought in Jorge Pereyra Diaz from Club Atletico Platense to execute his plan in Kerala. The Blasters haven’t made the playoffs since losing to ATK in the finals in 2016. With 4 new head coaches since then, Kerala has tried to get their hands on the elusive ISL trophy but with little success. After yet another disappointing season in 2020-21, Kerala relieved Kibu Vicuna of his duties and have put their faith in Vukomanovic to turn the Manjappada fortunes.
Kerala lost Bart Ogbeche to Mumbai before the beginning of the 2020-21 season and they replaced their record goalscorer with the combination of Gary Hooper and Jordan Murray. Both players failed to live up to the huge expectations and while Hooper rejoined Wellington Phoenix in the A-League, Murray moved to Jamshedpur. Securing their replacements was on top of Kerala’s transfer list as Vukomanovic likes to play with 2 strikers upfront and the Blasters have signed Alvaro Vazquez and Jorge Pereyra Diaz to help with the goal scoring. We dissect Jorge Pereyra Diaz today and how he could be the answer to the Blasters problem.
A bried word on Ivan Vukomanovic
The new man in charge of the Blasters played as a defender and holding midfielder. Ivan Vukomanovic has represented various clubs in the top flights of European football, making appearances for Bordeaux, FC Koln, Red Star Belgrade, Royal Antwerp and Dynamo Moscow before hanging up his playing boots at the age of 34 in 2011. He started his coaching career at Standard Liege as an assistant to Guy Luzon before taking over from him in 2014. While Standard Liege had a decent run of results under him, he was replaced by Jose Riga at the Belgian club. Standard wanted Vukomanovic to continue as an assistant to Riga, but the Serbian decided to move on.
Vukomanovic next moved on to Slovakia, taking charge of Slovan Bratislava and won his first silverware as a manager as Bratislava won the 2017-18 Slovak cup. He parted ways with the club in 2017 a took a 2-year hiatus from coaching. He managed Apollon Limassol in 2019 as an interim manager, taking charge of the Cypriot club for 4 games.
Vukomanovic loves to play with the 4-4-2 formation, with two ball-playing central defenders, a double pivot and with two strikers upfront. Vukomanovic is flexible with his tactics and decides his game plan based on the opposition he is facing. He looks to build up from the back starting with his goal-keeper and central defenders and push the ball wide to his wing-backs. He also expects the double pivot to work in sync as on occasions, one of them has to fall back to pick up the ball in his own half and move it forward to his counterpart. He wants his teams to control the midfield and tries to increase the number of bodies in there by asking his wing-backs to join in the attack while one of his two strikers drops into the midfield to pick the ball up and find his partner in crime. Jorge Pereyra Diaz fits the bill of a second striker perfectly and Vukomanovic would be counting on the Argentine to deliver his plans.
Who is Jorge Pereyra Diaz?
The Argentine forward began his career in the Primera B Nacional, the second division in Argentine football with Ferro Carril Oeste. He stayed with Oeste for 4 years before moving to Buenos Aires to join Lanus in the Primera Division. Pereyra spent a year with Lanus ahead of his first experience of club football in Asia with the Malaysian side Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) on a 3- year contract.
After an impressive first season in Malaysia, Pereyra returned to Argentina during the off-season to play for Independiente in the Primera Division. He rejoined JDT in the Malaysia Super League after his loan stint in Argentina before heading out once again in the off-season to Liga MX. He signed for Club Leon in Mexico on loan. After his loan spell ended, he returned to JDT in early 2018 before finally bidding them goodbye in May 2018. He went back to Argentina to sign for Lanus before moving to Bolivia to join Bolivar in the Bolivian Primera Divison. After a successful campaign in Bolivia, Pereyra joined San Marcos in the second division in Chile before returning to Argentina to sign for Platense
Jorge Pereyra Diaz’s style of play.
Pereyra is a versatile player who can operate as a winger down the right and the left, play as a second striker as well as the target man and can also play in the midfield in the wide positions. One of the greatest tools in his armoury of tricks is his ability to turn with the ball at his feet and run at defenders. Playing as a striker, Pereyra generally plays on the edge of the box and manages to find that extra yard to turn the defender breathing down on his neck before taking his goal-bound shot. Pereyra thrives in the 2 striker formation where he can feed off his fellow striker and turn provider for him.
Vukomanovic wants his goal-scorers to also drop into the midfield to assert his side’s supremacy and take control of the midfield. Pereyra is most likely to play the role of a second striker, a role he enjoyed while playing for Bolivar. He loves to drop into the midfield pick up the ball and run at defenders before releasing the killer pass. Pereyra is a workhorse who doesn’t like to be dispossessed and he helps out his team defensively by pressing the opposition when his side doesn’t have the ball.
Pereyra has a beautiful first touch that helps him control the ball close to his feet and turn defenders. His pace aids him too. His understanding of the game helps him find the channels and cracks in the opposition defensive setup and makes runs in those channels looking for a pass to find him and once he is off, it is hard to catch him. Pereyra has an eye for a pass and that’s what makes him such a dangerous proposition to deal with defensively as not does his only unlock defences with his goals but he can carve them open with delightful passes. The Vazquez-Pereyra partnership upfront for Kerala this season could very well be a sight to behold.
Previous Records of Jorge Pereyra Diaz
Pereyra’s career as a goal scorer took off after his move to Johor Darul Ta’zim. While starting his career with Oeste in the second division in Argentina, he managed only 15 goals in 86 games with them before moving to Lanus. He won the Copa Sudamericana with Lanus in 2013 and scored 5 goals for them throughout the season. He moved to JDT in 2014 and over his 3-year long stint with the Malaysian side, he scored 47 goals for them in various competitions.
He scored 8 goals in the league in his first season with JDT before his unsuccessful loan stint with Independiente in 2015 where he failed to open up his account for them. He returned to JDT in 2016 and lifted the Piala Sumbangsih, the Malaysian Super Cup with them. In his second season with JDT, Pereyra lit up the Malaysian Super League scoring 18 goals in 22 games. Pereyra had a dream goal scoring run in 2016 as he also went on to bag 6 goals in the AFC cup and 8 in the Malaysian FA Cup. His next loan stint with Club Leon was another underwhelming experience in 2017 as he failed to find the mark for them. His 2018 loan stint with them was better than in 2017 as he scored 3 goals and also registered an assist.
His opportunities at JDT in 2018 was between far and few, as he played only 6 games for them, but managed to score 5 goals. He left JDT in 2018 to return to Lanus but it seemed he had forgotten his scoring boots in Malaysia as he failed to score in 11 games with them. Pereyra’s missing goal-scoring boots were rediscovered in Bolivia in 2019 as he ran rampage with Bolivar scoring 19 goals in the league and guiding Bolivar to their 29th first division title. He moved to Chile next to sign for San Marcos and then onto Platense in Argentina scoring only 2 goals for both of them during his time with them.
What could this mean for the Kerala Blasters?
The Blasters faithful are desperate for a successful season and there is a sense of deja-vu around Kochi as the outfit from Kerala once again start a new season under a new head coach. The Blasters have been shrewd with their recruitment this season and have signed players that suit Vukomanovic’s style of play. With the signings of Jorge Pereyra Diaz and Alvaro Vazquez, Blasters have a new partnership up front that looks exciting and destined for success. Will the Blasters finally deliver after 4 seasons or will they flatter to deceive will only be answered when the ball gets rolling but till then the Manjappada have plenty to pin their hopes on.
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