Blasters seek redemption against FC Goa

After a superb start to their campaign when they beat NorthEast United FC 3-1 in the opening match in Kochi, Kerala Blasters have struggled to score.

Kerala Blasters' coach Peter Taylor has experimented with his strikers but has met with little success.   -  S. Mahinsha

Kerala Blasters, who have suffered back-to-back defeats including one at home to Delhi Dynamos, will be seeking redemption when they take on the formidable FC Goa at the Fatorda stadium on Thursday.

After a superb start to their campaign when they beat NorthEast United FC 3-1 in the opening match in Kochi, Kerala Blasters have struggled to score. Coach Peter Taylor has experimented with his strikers but has met with little success. Even the presence of marquee player Carlos Marchena and India stars Calvin Lobo and Sandesh Jhingan failed to galvanise the team in the last match when they which slumped to a 0-1 against Delhi Dynamos in Kochi.

Strikers Peter Dagnell and Sanchez Watts have been inconsistent. Mohd. Rafi, who scored against NorthEast United in the opening match, still doesn’t enjoy the confidence of coach Peter Taylor as the first choice striker. While the defence has distinguished itself, the midfield, apart from Pulga, and the forward line have been inconsistent. Assistant coach Trevor Morgan hinted at changes in the line-up for the next match. But the gaffer was not forthcoming. He agreed the side lacked firepower upfront and was wishing for a turnaround against Goa. “Against Atletico de Kolkata, we played well in the last 15 minutes and deserved to get something, but in the first 75 minutes we were just not good enough. We were poor the other night (against Delhi Dynamos) and the players know they did not perform. The best thing about this competition is that you do not get much time to dwell on anything since games come so quickly. This is an opportunity for us to get back to winning ways,” said Morgan.

The Kochi side has always been vulnerable away from home, where they don’t have the backing of 60,000 screaming spectators. It will be another opportunity for the team to prove their critics wrong in Goa, where in the past the 20,000-odd spectators’ collective cries of ‘Forza Goa’ have waylaid many formidable rivals.

The Goans, under legendry Zico, will be hoping to extend their domination at home over Kerala Blasters. The Blasters’ poor away record this season should give Zico some confidence on the eve of the match. However, ISL has sprung a lot of surprises. No one expected a meltdown from Goa on their home turf when they went down 4-0 to Chennayin FC. Though, Goa bounced back with a convincing 3-1 away win against NorthEast FC in Guwahati, they will be guarded against Kerala Blasters.

With local talent complementing the foreign imports, Goa have struck a nice balance in their attack from the start, something which Kerala Blasters were unable to do. However, Zico will be without the services of marquee star Lucio, midfielder Joffre Gonzalez and Sabeeth. Mandar Rao Desai, one of the heroes of Goa’s win against NEUFC, said the team is keen to carry on the momentum and it sounds ominous for Kerala Blasters.

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