ISL 2020-21 Talking Points: Kerala Blasters' all-Indian defence shuts out Hyderabad, Rahul KP shines

ISL 2020: Here are the key talking points from the Indian Super League clash between Kerala Blasters FC and Hyderabad FC.

Jordan Murray

Jordan Murray scored his second goal of the ISL 2020-21 season during Kerala Blasters' win over Hyderabad FC on Sunday.   -  ISL/Sportzpics

Kerala Blasters ended its six-match winless run when it cruised to a 2-0 victory over Hyderabad FC in the Indian Super League (ISL 2020-21) clash at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Sunday.

The win, Blasters' first of the season, sees it remain on the ninth spot with six points from seven games. Hyderabad also retains its eighth spot.

MATCH REPORT | ISL 2020-21: Hakku, Murray steer Kerala Blasters to first win of the season

Here are the key talking points from the Kerala Blasters FC vs Hyderabad FC ISL 2020-21 clash:

Blasters' all-Indian defence keeps clean sheet

Kibu Vicuna made a bold move ahead of kick-off by replacing his foreign defensive duo of Bakary Kone and Costa Nhamoinesu with the inexperienced Abdul Hakku and Sandeep Singh. And the move did wonders as not only did the defence ensure it kept a second clean-sheet of the season, Hakku also scored his maiden ISL goal.

Abdul Hakku

Kerala Blasters' Abdul Hakku (L) celebrates after scoring against Hyderabad FC in the Indian Super League (ISL 2020-21) on Sunday.   -  ISL/Sportzpics

 

Led by captain Jessel Carneiro, the defence put up a strong shift to shut out Hyderabad's forwards. Goalkeeper Albino Gomes also enjoyed a good game between the sticks making five saves to take his tally for the season to 22, the most this season alongside Jamshedpur FC's T. P. Rehenesh.

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And the coach was understandably a happy man. "I am happy with the win. We performed well. We switched [style of play] because of the players we had in the XI. I am happy with Sandeep and Hakku's performances and Jeakson. We changed a little bit. It was a practical approach," he said.

Adil, Sandaza make comebacks from injury

While Hyderabad slumped to its second consecutive loss, it will some sense of confidence from the fact that Adil Khan and Francisco Sandaza made a comeback from injury. Spanish striker Sandaza was introduced in the 74th minute, while Adil came on six minutes later.

Hyderabad has for long been plagued by injuries to its foreign players. Having signed only six foreigners out of an allowed quota of seven, the club hopes to address the issue soon.

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Coach Manolo Marquez hopes that the likes of Luis Sastre and Joel Chianese can get back to the pitch soon. "They are close to playing. Now we play on Wednesday which could be too soon for both to play. One can maybe get some minutes. Let's see if we can sign another foreigner. Fran (Sandaza) will be an important player," he said.

Rahul KP's breakout campaign

The Kerala-born winger is having his breakout campaign as a regular starter in what is his second season at Blasters. Last campaign, he played 383 minutes in eight appearances and he has already racked up 387 minutes in five matches this term.

Rahul KP is becoming a regular start for Blasters under Vicuna. - ISL/Sportzpics

 

He is becoming a bankable player on either flanks for Vicuna and has already registered a goal. Hyderabad fullbacks Asish Rai and Akash Mishra struggled to keep up with Rahul's pace and dribbling. He also contributed defensively by pressing and pushing the opposition fullbacks into committing mistakes off the ball. Rahul effected seven tackles - the joint-most for a Blasters player and came close to scoring with two shots on target. 

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