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ISL 2017-18: Midfield and injury woes continue to strangle Kerala Blasters

9:05 AM GMT+4 22/01/2018
Kerala Blasters FC Goa 2017-18 ISL
The Sachin Tendulkar co-owned outfit suffered consecutive defeats for the first time this season…

The manner in which Ahmed Jahouh, Edu Bedia and Manuel Lanzarote were allowed to pick their passes in the second half, the gulf in class between the two teams was apparent. Yes, the score-line read 2-1 in favour of FC Goa but their dominance in midfield and how they made use of the bigger field was there for all to witness.

Yes, this was their fourth game in 12 days, of which three were on the road. Like every team in the Indian Super League (ISL), they too had to endure this phase of frenetic schedule. While they did fairy well in terms of the results in the first two games, their performance in the next two wasn’t up to the mark.

You would expect a lot more from the home team. Against Jamshedpur FC, after Keziron Kizito had to be substituted, their midfield comprised of Milan Singh, Loken Meetei and Courage Pekuson.

David James fielded Siam Hanghal, Pekuson and Milan for the Goan challenge and it must be said that the trio failed to make an impact. While one may point that Hanghal did strike the crossbar, apart from that none of the midfielders caused any trouble whatsoever.

Consider this, Milan and Siam could only make 26 accurate passes in the game when compared to Jahouh with 80 and Bedia, who made 90. 

There was a period in the second half where Jahouh was walking with the ball and there was no shirt in Yellow to close him down. The only player who possibly ran his socks off was a 34-year-old Iain Hume, something which the rest of the contingent should take note of.

The number of north-eastern recruits in the team haven’t really blossomed. Jackichand Singh has been in patchy form while Lalruatthara seems to be the only consistent performer. Others like Meetei and Pritam Singh or Samuel Shadap have been average to say the least.

Another issue which seems to be hurting the Blasters has been the number of players on the injury table. Dimitar Berbatov hasn’t recovered yet while Kizito too missed the game due to a knock.

Rino Anto’s case has been curious. The right-back hasn’t played in the I-League and was on the bench during the Federation Cup for Bengaluru FC last season. Add to that, he only played for 165 minutes under Steve Coppell.

His lack of match fitness is apparent. How? In the 10 matches he has featured in, he had to be substituted on five occasions. Yes, the player has been giving his heart out but does that matter when he isn’t or probably wasn’t 100 per cent fit in the first place.

It’s six games between now and the end of the league phase for Kerala and they need to make each one count for their countless fans. Do they have it in them to make the cut for the play-offs?