ISL 2020-21 Preview: A different game and a new opportunity for Kerala vs NorthEast United

Kerala Blasters (in yellow) and NorthEast United FC were tied (1-1 and 0-0) in their home and away games in the 2019-2020 Indian Super League season.

Kerala Blasters (in yellow) and NorthEast United FC have locked horns 12 times in the ISL, with KBFC winning five games and NEUFC winning three.   -  SPORTZPICS/ISL

Kerala Blasters had plenty of problems in the final third in the opener against ATK Mohun Bagan but head coach Kibu Vicuna sees Thursday’s Indian Super League match against NorthEast United at Bambolim GMC Stadium in Goa as a different game and a new opportunity. 

“Every game is different, even the formations of the teams are different. I don’t know which formation NorthEast is going to play tomorrow but we are ready to compete, we are ready to try to get the points, we are ready and we have our plan to face the game,” said the Spaniard.

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The Blasters and NorthEast were tied (1-1 and 0-0) in their home and away games last season but after watching the side during the win against Mumbai City FC the other day, Vicuna felt the Highlanders were a very organised team this time. 

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"They (NorthEast) played a very good game against well against Mumbai. They are a very organised team. They also had chances and tried to play out from the goalkeeper and tried to create fast counterattacks. For sure, they are going to be a very strong team and a very tough challenge for us.” 

Vicuna admitted that there was plenty of work to do in his side’s final third and explained that things would improve with time.  

"I think we controlled the game against ATK Mohun Bagan but they scored in an unlucky situation for us. We have to improve in the last third. It’s the most difficult part of the game.

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“It takes time and we are in the process. I think with time, we are going to be better, we are going to play better. We have a lot of new players, both Indian and foreign. So it will take time to create our identity as a football team," he said. 

Meanwhile, NorthEast head coach Gerard Nus expects the Blasters to be tough opponents. 

“The Blasters have one of the best squads in the ISL. They are a tough team to play against. They are good in the build-up, organisation and setpieces.

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“They can create chances in so many ways. It is going to be a hard match. They did not deserve to lose (against ATK-Bagan). They are going to play good football again."

- THE SQUADS -

Kerala Blasters FC: Albino Gomes, Bilal Khan, Prabhsukhan Singh Gill, Muheet Khan, Costa Nhamoinesu, Nishu Kumar, Bakary Kone, Jessel Carneiro, Sandeep Singh, Abdul Hakku, Lalruatthara, Sergio Cidoncha, Sahal Abdul Samad, Vicente Gomez, Seityasen Singh, Rahul KP, Givson Singh, Lalthathanga Khawlhring, Yendrembam Denechandra, Nongdamba Naorem, Arjun Jayaraj, Ayush Adhikari, Jeakson Singh, Prasanth Karuthadathkuni, Ritwik Das, Rohit Kumar, Gary Hooper, Jordan Murray, Facundo Pereyra, Naorem Mahesh Singh, Shaiborlang Kharpan

NorthEast United FC: Sanjiban Ghosh, Subhasish Roy, Gurmeet, Nikhil Deka, Ashutosh Mehta, Benjamin Lambot, Dylan Fox, Gurjinder Kumar, Mashoor Shereef, Nabin Rabha, Nim Dorjee, Provat Lakra, Wayne Vaz, Rakesh Pradhan, Federico Gallego, Khassa Camara, Lalengmawia, Imran Khan, Lalrempuia Fanai, Pragyan Gogoi, Rochharzela, Idrissa Sylla, Luis Machado, Kwesi Appiah, Britto PM, Ninthoinganba Meetei, Lalkhawpuimawia, Suhair Vadakkepeedika

Match facts

Time: 7.30 pm IST

Venue: Bambolim GMC Stadium, Goa