ISL 2021-22: Will Kerala Blasters Be Third Time Lucky? 

After six years of topsy-turvy ride, Kerala Blasters finally provided their fans something to cheer about in the present edition of the Indian Soccer League (ISL). The two-time finalists from the previous seasons have eventually managed to set up a summit clash with Hyderabad FC to secure the priced possession: ISL trophy. For Hyderabad, this is the maiden final but for Kerala, this is going to be their third final appearance. So, the question is, will the “Yellow Brigade” be third-time lucky? That could be a story for another day. For the time being, we will focus on things that influenced the march of “Men In Yellow” towards the final this time around. 

Vukomanovic’s Conviction And Strategies 

When the Serb joined the team as its coach it had three poor seasons in which it finished 9th, 7th and 10th. Clearly, not a good omen while joining the team. But, Ivan Vukomanovic realised the team has enough potential and it is all about getting the best out of these. So, rightly, he decided against going for big names in the market during the transfer window and started working with the talent at his disposal. The foreign componentsAdrian Luna, Alvaro Vazquez, Jorge Pereyra Diaz and Marko Leskovic have all gelled well for the blasters this season and no amount of praise would be adequate for the Serb on this count. He refined and fine-tuned the skills of the existing foreign as well as domestic talents and that has worked to the advantage of the Blasters. 

Sahal’s Extraordinary Run 

It would be an understatement to say that Sahal was instrumental in Blasters’ coming thus far this season. He has indeed proved this time that he is primed for the big matches with 6 goals and some vital assists. Sahal ably controlled the midfield moves and can easily be termed the creative engine of the Kerala outfit. This season he has also scored goals at regular intervals and optimized his play-making abilities to the fullest. So, it is not a surprise that his highly productive season has coincided with Blasters’ excellent performance in the last five editions. 

Making The Most of The Opportunity 

In the previous season, Blasters’ were guilty of not making most of the opportunities they got. For example, in the previous season they had the third-highest possession turnover (133) within 40 yards of the opposition goal; but, it hardly translated to anything of note. This time in comparison, Blasters had the seventh-best possession turnover (132), and they have been able to convert the same into four goals. Despite creating 28 big opportunities last time around, the “Yellow Brigade” only had a meagre 23 goals to show. But this time they have made up for the previous year’s inadequacy by scoring nine more goals. 

The Deadly Trio Of Luna, Vazquez, Diaz 

This year the foreign troika of Luna, Vazquez and Diaz has combined well and performed excellently for Blasters. The three have scored 22 goals among themselves and that is one of the major reasons for the resurgence of the Kerala team in the ISL this year. Diaz with the ability to score at crucial junctures, Luna with an uncanny knack of breaching the opposition fortress and Vazquez with the ability to build on the superlative efforts of the duo have indeed worked in unison to revive the fortunes of Blasters this year. 

Will They Or Won’t They? 

Hence, if Kerala fail at the final once more it can be really tough for the team to pick itself up again next season, but if they finally manage to win the trophy after two failed attempts then it can be the perfect new year gift for their fans, who have stood behind them like a pillar of strength through thick and thin. So, for their supporters, the Blasters will have to play out of their skins on March 20, come what may. 

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