Kerala Blasters raring to go against NorthEast

With the problems in the attack virtually sorted out, Kerala Blasters have a new look this season as they open their campaign against NorthEast United FC at the Nehru Stadium.

Kerala Blasters' marquee player Carlos Marchena Lopez is expected to miss two or three games due to an injury.   -  S. Mahinsa

NorthEast's Simao is also set to miss at least two games due to an injury.   -  AP

The problems in the attack virtually sorted out, Kerala Blasters FC have a new look this season as they open their campaign against NorthEast United FC at the Nehru Stadium here on Tuesday evening.

With players like Chris Dagnall, Sanchez Watt, Antonio German and Mohammed Rafi having a party and the home side winning their pre-season friendly games by big margins, the Blasters should be a very happy lot.

But there is a bit of a worry too.

Sometimes, losses offer more lessons than victories do and the Blasters did not even have one bad day to find out where their weaknesses lay.

“I agree if we had played stronger teams, Trevor and myself would have more to talk about and more to think about and more to put right,” said Peter Taylor, the Blasters' head coach, on Monday.

“But I can assure you that all the other seven teams probably could have done with stronger pre-season friendly games.”

Rain threat

Heavy rain forced both the teams to cancel their training session at the Nehru Stadium here this evening and this could be a threat to Tuesday’s match.

Both the Blasters and NorthEast will be without their marquee players, the home side’s Spanish World Cup winner Carlos Marchena and the rivals' former Portugal and Barcelona winger Simao Sabrosa, who are down with injuries.

“Marchena’s is not a long-term injury, he might miss two or three matches,” said Taylor. Simao is also likely to miss his team’s first two games.

Missing too will be the Blasters’ star defender Sandesh Jhingan, the Emerging Player of the ISL last year, and Cavin Lobo who have been called for national team duty while NorthEast will be without defender Aiborlang Khongjee.

The Blasters came close to taking the ISL title last year before finishing runner-up while NorthEast finished at the bottom of the league but Taylor said that he expects a tough game.

“NorthEast had a disappointing season last year but I’ve been very impressed with the enthusiasm of the owner. He has got his heart on his sleeve and I think he has got good players, good Portuguese players,” said Taylor. “Diomansy Kamara is a good player, I’ve seen a lot of him in England. I would be surprised if NorthEast was not better this year than it was last year. So, we’re expecting a very tough match.”

Meanwhile, the NorthEast head coach, Cesar Farias, said that his team was ready to do whatever it takes to make the playoffs.

“We didn’t come here just to spend some time, we came here to work and compete,” he said.

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