Indian Super League, Round 7
Ahead of our clash against Kerala Blasters FC in the Indian Super League 2020-21, we take a quick look at the squads, the opponents’ form. the key players to look out for and more…
Kerala Blasters roped in Kibu Vicuna as the head coach ahead of the 2020-21 Indian Super League campaign. Having led Mohun Bagan to the I-League title in the 2019-20 season, the Spaniard holds experience of coaching in an Indian league. Over the course of his coaching career, he has also managed a number of clubs in Spain and Poland.
Vicuna values a possessional style of play and brings the ability to enhance the performance of young players which will be crucial to Kerala’s playing style.
Kerala Blasters will bank on their key overseas signings in Vicente Gómez, Facundo Pereyra, Gary Hooper, Costa Nhamoinesu, Bakary Kone and Jordan Murray. The likes of Nishu Kumar, Seityasen Singh, and Rahul KP will also play a key role for the Blasters. Unfortunately, Sergio Cidoncha picked up a long term injury and is no longer a part of the KBFC squad for the current ISL season.
Interestingly, we might be in line to see a couple of players who switched camps over the off-season in this game. While Rohit Kumar left HFC to join Kerala Blasters, Halicharan Narzary made the switch to Hyderabad and both players have been crucial for their sides in the new ISL season.
Kibu Vicuna’s men are yet to record a win this season after facing losses against ATK Mohun Bagan, FC Goa and Bengaluru FC and playing draws with NorthEast United FC, Chennaiyin FC and SC East Bengal in their first six games of the campaign. However, KBFC will be positive going into the clash on Sunday after their last-minute goal cancelled SC East Bengal’s lead giving them a hard-earned point in the last round.
Kerala Blasters have hinted at their threatening style of play which is strengthened by the combination of dominating possession and dangerous pressing in the opponent box. They have constantly shown intent on the field and their attitude has enabled them to come back into the game and change its course on many occasions. The Hyderabad backline and midfield will be on the watch for Kerala’s passing and possessional organization along with attacking attempts on goal.
Sahal Abdul Samad (KBFC)
The Indian international midfielder will come into the game with a confident mindset after recording his first assist this season that came in the final minutes of the Blasters’ game against East Bengal. Although he missed a few games, his return will be a boost for the Blasters. He will be the one to challenge the HFC defence with his ability to position himself well in the attacking third as well as create crucial chances.
Gary Hooper (KBFC)
The English striker has been instrumental in the attacking lineup of Kerala Blasters. He brings in precision in passing and finishing which makes him a menace in the opponent box. Additionally, Hooper is also able to run from box to box and contribute defensively with his ability to break up play and intercept set pieces. He will pose to be an all-round threat to Hyderabad on Sunday.
Nishu Kumar (KBFC)
One of the younger talents in Kerala Blasters, Nishu Kumar is a lively and confident presence on the field. He is able to maintain the intensity in defence as well as attack for the Blasters with instrumental defensive blocks and technical crosses to the attack. He will look to hold the fort for his side against Hyderabad FC’s attack.
Aridane Santana (HFC)
The Spanish striker has been at the helm of most attacks for Hyderabad FC with his commanding nature in attack paired with goal-scoring intent. Aridane’s competency in attack with targeted shots, well-positioned runs, ability to engage in link-up play with Halicharan and Liston Colaco will cause problems in Kerala’s backline on Sunday.
Asish Rai (HFC)
The young defender has been a key player for Hyderabad FC since he has contributed all around the pitch in all the games. Asish Rai will be a frustrating presence on the right flank for Kerala Blasters due to a combination of his acrobatic defensive prowess, forwards runs and linking-up abilities to support the HFC attackers.
Joao Victor (HFC)
The Brazilian midfielder has shown leadership and composure in Hyderabad’s midfield. His burly physique paired with aerial power and quick passing has made him a strong presence in the middle. Victor’s ability to break up possession, regain play and facilitate ball distribution will be crucial against Kibu Vicuna’s men.