With just less than a month for the commencement of the Hero Indian Super League as per the dates that has been revealed, the clubs have also started finishing the domestic and foreign player announcements. Let’s have a preview of the Kerala Blasters FC team and predict the how the club could line-up for the 2020-21 season.
The club released the preseason squad list on the 8th of October. It consisted of 30 players of which 4 are goalkeepers, 7 defenders, 16 midfielders and 3 strikers. Since then the club has announced the signing of two defenders and one striker.
The names in the contingent are:
Goalkeepers – Albino Gomes, Prabhsukhan Singh Gill, Bilal Husain Khan and Muheet Shabir.
Defenders – Denechandra Meitei, Jessel Carneiro, Nishu Kumar, Lalruatthara, Abdul Hakku, Kenstar Kharshong, Costa Nhamoinesu and Bakary Koné.
Midfielders – Sahal Abdul Samad, Jeakson Singh, Rohit Kumar, Rahul KP, Arjun Jayaraj, Lalthathanga Khawlhring, Ayush Adhikari, Gotimayum Muktasana, Givson Singh Moirangthem, Seityasen Singh, Prasanth K, Ritwik Das, Nongdamba Naorem, Sergio Cindoncha, Facundo Pereyra and Vicente Gómez Umpiérrez.
Forwards – Shaiborlang Kharpan, Naorem Mahesh Singh, Gary Hooper and Jordan Murray.
Overall, it’s a balance of youth and experience. The team has signed some big names of the footballing consortium. Namely, Costa Nhamoinesu, Bakary Koné, Vicente Gómez Umpiérrez, Gary Hooper etc.
Costa Nhamoinesu has previously represented his club in the UEFA Europa League and the UEFA Champions League. Bakary Koné has played in the Ligue 1, La Liga and Russian Premier League.
Vicente Gómez Umpiérrez has spent his footballing career mostly in Las Palmas and Deportivo La Coruña representing his clubs in the La Liga.
Gary Hooper has scored in the Premier League, Championship, League One, League Two, FA Cup, League Cup, Football League Trophy, FA Trophy, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, Scottish Cup, Scottish League Cup and the Scottish Premier League, the first and only player to achieve this feat. On top of this, he has also scored in the Conference National and the Conference South and has two FA trophies to his name.
Some of the other exciting names are Facundo Pereyra, Nishu Kumar, Jordan Murray, Nongdamba Naorem etc. To have a look at the young prospects of Kerala Blasters FC for the upcoming season, click here.
The newly earmarked coach, Kibu Vicuña, was previously seen managing Mohun Bagan in the 2019-20 stint of I-League. He led them to victory and showcased a brand of attacking football with often sticking to the 4-2-3-1 formation. The coach is coming into ISL with the audience expecting a quality display of game from his side.
The strengths of the club will majoritively be the foreign signings of this season as some of their achievements have been explained above and the Indian players to watch out for will be Rahul KP, Sahal Abdul Samad, Nongdamba Naorem, Gotimayum Muktasana, Naorem Mahesh Singh, Nishu Kumar, Jessel Carneiro etc. The competition among these players will be very high and it is going to be very hard for any player to find a spot in the starting eleven of the club.
The weaknesses of the clubs could be, firstly, the lack of an experienced goalkeeper. The goalkeepers that the clubs have signed are either ones who have failed to establish themselves in the Hero ISL or ones who are yet to prove themselves in the Hero ISL. Bilal Khan was the Golden Glove winner of the 2018-19 season of the Hero I-League but the transition to the Hero ISL has definitely affected the keeper’s performance. One of the reasons could be the pressure from the fans and maybe the closed doors decree could help the keeper flourish this season. And another keeper who has been in the Hero ISL for 5 years is Albino Gomes, but he is yet to prove himself in the league.
To read more on how the closed doors might affect the performances of the Indian players this season, click here.
Secondly, and most common for most of the clubs in almost all the seasons, the squad of the club is a comparatively newer one with a new head coach, Kibu Vicuña. As a result of this, the club might need some more time to build the chemistry among the players in this short league.
Now getting into how the club could line-up for this upcoming season, Kibu Vicuña’s most commonly preferred formation is a 4-2-3-1 one. Focusing on that,
Albino Gomes (GK)
Nishu Kumar (RB)
Bakary Koné (RCB)
Costa Nhamoinesu (LCB)
Jessel Carneiro (LB)
Jeakson Singh (RDM)
Vicente Gómez (LDM)
Rahul KP (RW)
Facundo Pereyra (CAM)
Nongdamba Naorem (LW)
Gary Hooper (ST),
Substitutes – Sahal Abdul Samad, Lalruatthara, Abdul Hakku, Jordan Murray, Seityasen Singh, Sergio Cidoncha, Bilal Khan.
The coach, sporting director and the club management has surprised the fans and the audience with the signings this season. On page, KBFC looks to be one really strong competitor for the top 4 position this season. The squad has the potential to put forward some astonishing performances this season. Cross your fingers Manjappada and hope for the best.