Kerala Blasters have made it a habit of shooting themselves on the foot with slow starts to matches in the Indian Super League (ISL). It was the same syndrome on display against FC Goa on Saturday.
Like their previous tie against Bengaluru FC, Kibu Vicuna's side conceded a goal in the first half and only came back into the match after the break. But unlike their last match, Blasters were not able to score a second goal had to remain content with just a point despite playing against 10-men for better part of the second half.
It could be said that Kerala Blasters looked shaky and unsettled in the first 45 minutes. In the second half, though, Vicuna's men improved and showed intent which yielded them the equaliser. Rahul KP once again rose to the occasion and turned hero for his side just like he did against the Blues.
Kerala Blasters have shown improvement as the season has progressed. They look confident and a far better outfit from what they were in the beginning. But unfortunately, they do not start their matches well. They wait until the opponents inch ahead before deciding to show their ability.
At present Kibu Vicuna's team are unbeaten in the last four matches and have managed to collect eight points in the same period. But this cannot be a long term thing if they want to make it to the play-offs.
Another glaring issue in this Kerala Blasters side is Gary Hooper. The former Norwich City striker's move to the Yellow Army had generated a lot of hype as the fans expected the experienced forward to change the fortunes of the club this season but unfortunately the English striker is yet to live up to his reputation.
The 32-year-old forward has managed to score only two goals in 11 ISL appearances so far. These are not the stats you expect from a top striker. Hooper, specifically, looked frivolous against Goa. He had his opportunities against Goa but his first touch on several occasions was extremely poor and so was his decision-making.
Vicuna too rued all the missed chances as he felt that his team could have easily got the three points in the end if not for poorly executed final passes in the attacking third.
For FC Goa it was a mixed bad experience. Unlike their previous matches, they scored early against Blasters and looked like a team that meant business right from the off. But their strong start did not yield them much as they managed to score only a goal despite creating numerous chances. Profligacy has been an issue for Juan Ferrando's side ever since their star striker Igor Angulo has stopped featuring in the starting lineup due to a prolonged illness.
The Spanish coach has tried deploying Jorge Ortiz as a number 9 but the former Atletico Madrid 'B' player is not a natural striker and that has reflected in his performance. It has to be mentioned though that it was Ortiz who had scored the solitary goal for Goa in the match, in a somewhat fortuitous manner.
Vicuna has to work on the approach of his team and start matches on a better note while FC Goa need to capitalise on their strong starts and finish off games quickly.