In season one, Kerala Blasters only won four of their eight home matches and in four matches they failed to score. Season two saw two wins and not being able to find the back of the net in two games. Last year under Steve Coppell, they won six games at home and couldn’t score in two matches.
This year under Rene Meulensteen, Kerala Blasters were expected to be an attacking force, playing an entertaining brand of football. However, what one has witnessed so far has not lived up to the expectations. In over 270 minutes of football, they have scored a goal from Mark Sifneos and only have garnered three points.
Dimitar Berbatov had mentioned in the pre-season that he wouldn’t play as a striker but would be assigned a role in the midfield. To be honest, not many players have been able to win the ball off his feet. The goal scored by Kerala also stemmed from his creativity. He did have some sublime touches on the ball and was the chief orchestrator of their attacks but a lack of support from the rest of the personnel has been Kerala’s Achilles' heel.
There was an instance in the second half when Berbatov laid the ball for substitute Siam Hanghal to shoot it first time. The former Bengaluru FC midfielder's shot sailed over the bar when he should have at least tested Amrinder Singh in goal.
Chekiyot Vineeth was retained by Kerala amid much fanfare but in the three games, he has hardly made any impact. The 29-year-old attacker had as many as three opportunities to further extend the lead for Blasters but his tame display in front of goal would have left Meulensteen frustrated.
What was worse is the manner in which he got himself sent-off. He committed a needless foul on Abinash Ruidas to get himself in the referee’s book. What followed was embarrassing and certainly tainted his reputation. He went inside the box and dived hoping to earn a penalty for the club; such are the times which highlights their desperation for a win.
There is a lack of coordination in attack. Iain Hume looks a shadow of himself when playing for Blasters and Meulensteen must ensure that the Canadian is handed a start alongside Sifneos. Their wingers haven’t done enough nor have the full-backs provided an attacking outlet. Rino Anto gave an assist for the goal but otherwise has had an average season.
Kerala Blasters need to rise from the mediocrity and perform. While the fans have turned up in numbers to show their support, it seems the players haven’t really got their act going.
For Mumbai City FC, they will be pleased to go home with a point. Alexandre Guimaraes' outfit seem heavily dependent on Balwant Singh for goals as Rafa Jorda has been nothing short of disappointing in his two games, one of which he came on as a substitute. Achille Emana was supposed to be their star player but the Cameroonian hasn't done justice to that tag. They desperately need Leo Costa back in their ranks to link the defence to the attack.