Indian Super League (ISL) side Kerala Blasters have a history of falling short of glory in their short history, with the franchise finishing as runners-up on a couple of occasions.
With big money signings like Gary Hooper, Facundo Pereyra, Vicente Gomez, Costa Nhamoinesu and Bakary Kone, followed by arguably the best Indian roster in the league at Kibu Vicuna’s disposal, the Blasters look a strong side on paper.
Kerala Blasters FC key players
Gary Hooper: The English centre-forward is one of the highest-paid overseas signings in the 2020/21 ISL season. Gary Hooper will spearhead Kerala Blasters‘ attacking line-up as the lone striker.
He has the experience of playing in various divisions in England and the A-League. Hooper scored nine goals and provided five assists in the 2019/20 season for Wellington Phoenix in the A-League.
He has over 200 goals in 400 games, which is testament to his vast experience in competitive football, primarily in the British Isles. Hooper has already been scoring in the pre-season games and will be hoping to repeat the same when the ISL starts.
Facundo Pereyra: The Argentine attacking midfielder arrives at the Indian Super League right from the Cypriot First Division. Facundo Pereyra boasts of vast experience in South American club football and has been part of the CONMEBOL Champions League on several occasions.
He has also played for some East European Clubs like PAOK Salonika, FK Qabala, and Racing Club. Pereyra is a creative genius and is expected to be highly effective in midfield. He will be partnered by Nongdamba Naorem and Rahul KP on either side, making Kerala Blasters a very strong side in the middle of the pitch.
Vicente Gomez: Behind all the attacking prowess of Kerala Blasters, Spanish defensive midfielder Vicente Gomez will act as a sweeper and a blocker for Kibu Vicuna’s side.
Gomez is yet another high profile purchase for Kerala Blasters. With the experience of playing for sides like UD Las Palmas, Deportivo La Coruna and AD Huracan in the recent past, Gomez will be a sturdy, experienced and valuable asset ahead of the defence for Kerala Blasters.
Kerala Blasters FC probable line-up
Kibu Vicuna is expected to go with his tried and tested formula of a textbook 4-2-3-1 formation. Vicuna’s single striker and two-blocker approach was highly successful in Mohun Bagan’s 2019-20 I-League winning campaign.
The Spaniard depends highly on a flooded midfield and hence, the results of Kerala Blasters games will depend on the midfield play of the Kochi-based side.
(4-2-3-1): Albino Gomes (GK), Bakary Kone, Costa Nhamoinesu, Jessel Carneiro, Nishu Kumar, Jeakson Singh, Vicente Gomez, Facundo Pereyra, Rahul KP, Nongadamba Naorem, Gary Hooper
Kerala Blasters FC full squad
Goalkeepers: Albino Gomes, Bilal Khan, Muheet Khan, Prabhsukhan Gill
Defenders: Abdul Hakku, Bakary Kone, Costa Nhamoinesu, Jessel Carneiro, Lalruatthara, Nishu Kumar, Sandeep Singh
Midfielders: Arjun Jayaraj, Ayush Adhikari, Jeakson Singh, Vicente Gomez, Lathathanga Khwalhring, Givson Singh, Nongdamba Naorem, Prashanth Karuthadathkuni, Rahul KP, Ritwik Das, Rohit Kumar, Sahal Abdul Samad, Seityasen Singh, Sergio Cidoncha, Yendrembam Denechandra
Forwards: Facundo Pereyra, Gary Hooper, Jordan Murray, Naorem Mahesh Singh, Shaiborlang Kharpan
Head Coach: Kibu Vicuna
Kerala Blasters FC fixtures (Till Round 10)
20th November – Kerala Blasters vs ATK Mohun Bagan
26th November – Kerala Blasters vs NorthEast United FC
29th November – Chennaiyin FC vs Kerala Blasters
06th December – FC Goa vs Kerala Blasters FC
13th December – Bengaluru FC vs Kerala Blasters FC
20th December – Kerala Blasters FC vs SC Ast Bengal
27th December – Kerala Blasters FC vs Hyderabad FC
02nd January – Mumbai City FC vs Kerala Blasters FC
07th January – Kerala Blasters FC vs Odisha FC
10th January – Jamshedpur FC vs Kerala Blasters
Kerala Blasters FC season prediction
Kerala Blasters have one of the strongest Indian rosters in the ISL, in addition to tonnes of experience in their foreign contingent across all the playing positions. Despite the absence of fans inside the stadiums, Kerala Blasters are expected to do well under the tutelage of Kibu Vicuna.
Kerala Blasters FC predicted finish: 4th
Also Read: Jamshedpur FC season preview, full squad, fixtures and more: ISL 2020-21