Kerala Blasters: Eyeing the Trophy This Time

Kerala Blasters, last year’s runners up in the Indian Super League (ISL) is eyeing nothing less than the trophy this time. Presence of co-owner Sachin Tendulkar in the stands, cheering them on, will be a big boost to the Blasters who are all set for the season and surely taking heart from their outstanding performance in the previous season.

Tendulkar’s men put up a spirited performance in the inaugural edition but were unlucky in the final against Atletico de Kolkata losing 1-0 in the dying moments of the title clash.

They will be playing under their new head coach Peter Taylor who many consider as Blasters’ best acquisition for ISL 2. Taylor, who played for Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace as a winger is a proven customer as a coach, having managed numerous clubs including Leicester City in the Premier League.

Ishfaq Ahmed, player and assistant coach this season, believes the team has every chance to lift the trophy this time around. “We have the potential and players to go all the way this season. Players are positive ahead of the season and the dressing room atmosphere is fantastic,” Ahmed told IBNLive.

“Please continue to support and love us. We are going to give our best and this time we are going to better our performance and we will continue to get better,” said Tendulkar in Kochi the other day after unveiling the team’s kit.

Head Coach Peter Taylor
Head Coach Peter Taylor

First match against Northeast United FC

In their first match, today at 7 pm, Blasters will host Northeast United FC, who finished on the bottom last season. Though they would miss marquee player Carlos Marchena, who is injured, in the kick-off, the team is looking to start the season with a good win, riding on the tremendous home support they always get.

The Northeast United FC, owned by actor John Abraham, managed to win just three games out of 14 in the last season to finish at the bottom of the table in the eight-team franchise-based football tournament.

Blasters had a tough start in the last edition with five straight away games of which they could manage only four points. They did come back strongly after that, but this year they would want a better start to their campaign. They have a relatively well-balanced team with good defence and some consistent players who can turn things their way.

Unlike other ISL teams, Kerala Blasters had their entire pre-season build-up in their home state and have been well acclimatised to the vagaries of the weather. This could be an advantage for them.

However, the team will miss its marquee player Spaniard Carlos Marchena in the opener. Marchena, a 2010 World Cup winner was forced to return home for treatment after an injury suffered during a practice session.

The players to look out for will be full back Sandesh Jhingan, who was named as the emerging player of the first edition, Peter Ramage (England), Bruno Perone (Brazil) and goalkeeper Stephen Bywater, and national players like Cavin Lobo and Peter Carvalho.