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ISL 2020-21: How Kerala Blasters could shape up under Kibu Vicuna

For three very long seasons, Kerala Blasters have failed to get it right in ISL. Their fans have been frustrated but Vicuna’s imminent arrival gives hope.

ISL 2020-21: How Kerala Blasters could shape up under Kibu Vicuna


Published: 13 April 2020 1:41 PM GMT

It’s been three long seasons since Kerala Blasters last made it to the playoffs of the Indian Super League (ISL). Star players, big coaches have come and gone and yet, for long, the huge Blasters fan base has been left frustrated with the team’s results.

It did not come as a surprise when, after yet another unconvincing season, the Blasters management decided that some changes were required. First, they roped in Karolis Skinkys as the Sporting Director from Lithuanian club FK Suduva before making some statement signings in Tiri and Nishu Kumar.

And now, with the imminent arrival of Kibu Vicuna, who is fresh from the I-League win with Mohun Bagan in his first season in India, things are looking up for the Kochi-based franchise. In his brief stay so far, the Spanish coach has already created his own brand of football, that was loved by fans, appreciated by critics and the style that gave the team an identity — something fans have called ‘Vicunaball’.

Under Vicuna, Bagan thrived, albeit after some time, as the 48-year-old’s stubbornness to stick to his philosophy, no matter the initial disappointments, paid rich dividends in the I-League.

In the ISL, also, although the challenge is more difficult with the likes of ATK-MB, Bengaluru FC, FC Goa and others coming into the mix, Vicuna will be expected to deliver the goods. At his disposal, he will have a young and boisterous squad, similar to the one he had at Bagan.

In Sahal Abdul Samad, Nongdamba Naorem, Prabhsukhan Gill, KP Rahul, Jeakson Singh and others, Blasters have an exciting batch of youngsters in their ranks. And Vicuna will have no problems, after all he has shown his faith in youth. The way Naorem and SK Sahil (both on loan from Blasters) performed under his tutelage at Bagan is a testament to that.

Vicuna’s style is more possession-based, something that will go along well with Jeakson, Sahal and Naorem who will be able to express themselves more.


Apart from the youngsters, Sandesh Jhingan’s return and Tiri and Nishu Kumar’s additions have bolstered the defence line that leaked quite a lot of goals last season. Also, Bartholomew Ogbeche and Sergio Cidoncha’s contract extensions mean that they will continue to be vital members of the squad.

It will also be interesting to see who the Blasters sign next. Indeed, Vicuna will have certain demands because it is a fact that he needs the right kind of players to suit his style and the rumour is that certain Bagan players could follow him south. Midfielder Joseba Beitia is a strong candidate who ticks all the boxes while Fran Gonzalez, who is being courted by ATK-Mohun Bagan, would be a massive signing.

But all that is just conjecture, and it is no secret that the Blasters management is not hurrying this time. They want a clear cut blueprint from Vicuna before making any further moves in the transfer market. The prospect of having a coach who has his own character, knows how to handle fan pressure and can adapt well is certainly too exciting for the Blasters faithful. Will they be able to go on and get a taste of the elusive ISL title? Only time will tell.

Also read: ISL 2019-20: Why Kerala Blasters should take a leaf out of ATK’s book as pivotal summer awaits

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