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Kerala Blasters FC

ISL: 5 keys to success for Kerala Blasters FC this season

The Blasters are determined to right all the wrongs from last season as they embark on a new journey under the stewardship of Serbian tactician Ivan Vukomanovic.

ISL: 5 keys to success for Kerala Blasters FC this season

Atrayo Bhattacharya

Updated: 28 Oct 2021 4:29 PM GMT

After a season to forget, Kerala Blasters are back for another Indian Super League season with a new-look team and a new coach. The Blasters are determined to right all the wrongs from last season as they embark on a new journey under the stewardship of Serbian tactician Ivan Vukomanovic.

They have revamped the entire foreign contingent and with new players, it will be exciting to see how the Blasters fare in the upcoming season. But to succeed there are a few important aspects that need to go their way. We at The Bridge discuss the various aspects that hold the key to Kerala Blasters' success in the eighth season of the ISL.

A proper preseason

Kerala Blasters have been prey to short preseason in the past and hence they would not like to make the same mistake again. A proper pre-season in Goa is of utmost importance for any team as the players need to get acclimatized and conditioned ahead of the league. The pre-season is also an opportunity for head coach Ivan Vukomanovic to know the players a lot more and gather knowledge about football in India.

Ivan Vukomanovic in action for Kerala Blasters FC; (Image Source: Twitter)

The Blasters featured in the prestigious Durand Cup in Kolkata and following that they arranged a camp in Kochi and played a couple of friendly matches. They won both their friendly matches against the Indian Navy and MA Football Academy. Currently, they are in Goa and are going through their second phase of pre-season. They already have a busy schedule full of matches against other ISL teams as Vukomanovic's men get ready for the new season in full swing.

Finding the right combination

A couple of months of pre-season always allows the gaffer to know the strength and weaknesses of everyone in the team. Vukomanovic has a very talented roster at his disposal with the right mix of youth and experience. The Serbian will have to get his combination on point right from the start of the season.

With a revamped foreign contingent and few new domestic inclusions, he needs to give the players time to gel and understand each other's game. The Serbian needs to trust his best players to get the job done for him. He needs to avoid too much chopping and changing in between the season. It creates imbalance and trust issues among the players, creating an unfavorable environment.

Implementing the philosophy

Vukomanovic is a very experienced manager and has plied his trade in several top clubs. He has also worked with some top professionals during his time at Standard Liege in Belgium. Hence he knows his role pretty well. He likes to play pragmatic football and prefers a classic 4-4-2 formation. However, he is quite flexible in that aspect and can even resort to a 4-3-3 if needed.

It will be interesting to see how he fits the likes of Alvaro Vazquez, Adrian Luna, and Jorge Pereyra in the same lineup. Luna was one of their standout players in the Durand Cup while the other two are also exceptional in their given roles.

Kerala Blasters over the years, have tried several managers with varied philosophies but have not found success. They will hope that Vukomanovic's style of play will bring the desired success in the upcoming season.

Setting up the defense

The Blasters had a pretty poor outing last season as they finished tenth in the points table and conceded second-highest goals. There were persistent injury problems in defense for the majority of the campaign. Hence the defense never got going and the results are evident.

Vukomanovic will hope that things are different this season as he has brought in defenders like Enes Sipovic and Marko Leskovic. While Sipovic has prior experience in Indian football with Chennaiyin FC, Leskovic has featured for the Croatia national team. Hence both the foreign defenders bring their own set of qualities and will look to complement each other. Other than that, the Serb has an array of domestic options including Jessel Carneiro, Nishu Kumar, Harmnajot Singh Khabra, Ruivah Hormipam, and others. The Blasters desperately need their defense to click as it will provide them with the foundation to prosper.

The Alvaro Vazquez effect

Kerala Blasters made a huge statement by signing Spanish marksman Alvaro Vazquez. The former Swansea City and Espanyol man bring a lot of experience and goals for the Yellow Army. Last season the Tuskers went with Gary Hooper which badly misfired hence they will hope that Vazquez leaves his impression in Indian football.

The 31-year-old Spaniard has plied his trade in the Premier League with Swansea City and has also featured in the La Liga with Espanyol. His experience of playing in top leagues will come in handy for the Blasters. Apart from Espanyol, he has also plied his trade for Getafe and enjoyed his best season in La Liga, scoring five goals along with four assists in the 2015-16 season. He will shoulder the expectations of scoring consistently for the Blasters as he will have the support of Jorge Pereyra and Adrian Luna along with the domestic players. Vazquez may not be a very lethal striker with a lot of goals but he compensates for that aspect with his excellent chance creation and link-up play. His form will be crucial for the Blasters throughout the season as he will be the main man upfront for them.

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