Kerala Blasters didn’t have the best of starts in the Indian Super League (ISL). They suffered back-to-back defeats and after having finished bottom of the table last time around, the pressure on the side was enormous.
However, Steve Coppell’s team are fast beginning to look like the team which made it into the finals of the inaugural edition of the ISL. David James’ side were miserly at the back and produced work-man like performances, which although not exciting on the eye was certainly effective.
Their strike-force wasn’t the most prolific with only Iain Hume scoring five. However, they were tough to break down and wasn’t surprising that they had the best defensive record in the league with only 11 leaked in at the league stage.
This season too Kerala are a team which most teams cannot score against. In Aaron Hughes and Cedric Hengbart, they have the best defensive partnerships in the league as the experienced duo has managed to shut out most teams’ attack. In midfield, Mehtab Hossain and Azrack Mahamat, who are both ball winners and do well to recycle possession.
In attack like the first season, they are struggling for goals which just four to the name.
After the first six games in season one, Kerala had leaked in six goals and only four this term. In 2014 at this stage, they had two victories (1-0 at home and 2-1 away similar to this season. Also Coppell’s team have a point (8) more than what they had achieved in the inaugural edition (7).
Against FC Goa, they were the better team. They capitalised on a defensive error at the start of the second half, used the width of the field and equalised. The Blasters could have buried the game when Michael Chopra was though on goal but he struck it straight at the goalkeeper, much to his chagrin. However, a brilliant goal by Kervens Belfort ensured that they picked up their first three points on the road.
On the other hand, FC Goa’s façade of things having improved after a 1-0 win over Mumbai was busted. Except for Julio Cesar, who was their best player by some distance, none of the players came close to scoring or threatening the opposition defense.
Goa should have had a penalty but as was the case for Kerala too as the referee didn’t point to the spot twice in the game, possibly to even things out. Jofre’s injury didn’t help either as Zico had to deploy Lucio in the midfield, a ploy which flopped.
Zico openly stating that he was deceived during the transfer window as Goa signed goalkeeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury without his knowledge. He also claimed that he wasn’t aware of the deadline to complete signings which saw them miss out on a couple of important players in key positions.
It wasn’t surprising to see Subhasish not being at his best following the comments made by the Brazilian manager. The former Atletico de Kolkata goalkeeper should have done better to stop the winner as he was beaten at his near post, an area which every shot-stopper is expected to have covered.
All is not well at FC Goa and the blame would have to be shouldered on their shoddy recruitment. As it is during the ISL season every team has to contend with injuries, when you already sign players who haven’t played competitive football, you are asking for trouble.