It was another season to forget for the Kerala Blasters as the two-time runners up finished second from the bottom in an 11-team league. The team from Kochi won just three matches and ended the season with 17 points, 14 points off the fourth-placed team and 23 points off Mumbai City FC, the winners of the Indian Super League League Winners Shield.
Ahead of the start of the season, the Manjapadas received two major blows when Sandesh Jhingan, their longest-serving player and one of the mainstays of their squad left on mutual consent and Bartholomew Ogbeche joined the City Football Group Revolution at Mumbai City FC under Sergio Lobera. But their blow was sweetened a bit with the arrival of I-League winning coach Kibu Vicuna. The Spanish coach won the I-League title with Mohun Bagan the previous season with the Green and Maroon playing an exciting brand of football. However, their season started off on a losing note and they got their first win in the seventh game. They ended the league stage with just two more wins with the KBFC players failing to get accustomed to Kibu’s philosophy which forced the Spaniard to try new things. It eventually never worked for them as the 49-year- old vacated his position on mutual consent after 0-4 thrashing at the hands of Hyderabad FC.
ISL 2020-21 RECORD
Played: 20; Won: 3; Drawn: 8; Lost: 9; Points: 17; Standing: 10th
To be honest, there were hardly any high points this season for Kerala Blasters. They were always playing catch-up due to their poor start to the season and showed glimpses of hope in one or two matches when they caused upsets. The first one was against Jamshedpur FC where they held on to their ground to snatch a 3-2 win. Their third and last win of the season came in a stunning fashion as they beat Bengaluru FC courtesy a last gasp goal by Rahul KP. The Indian midfielder had a decent season with KBFC that helped him earn a call-up to the national team’s preliminary squad for the friendlies against UAE and Oman.
The inability of their strikers to find the back of the net, shaky defence, injuries. When Costa Nhamoinesu and Bakary Kone arrived down south after Nishu Kumar joined them from Bengaluru FC, most thought that they will have an almost impenetrable backline but in reality, it was something totally different. They conceded 36 goals, only Odisha (44) conceded more.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Jordan Murray, was their top goal-scorer this season with seven goals which were two more than Garry Hooper their second-highest scorer. They had nine different scorers this season, however, not a single one of them touched double digits as they ended the season by scoring just 23 goals. The third-worst in the season, ahead of Chennaiyin FC (17) and SC East Bengal (22).
Garry Hooper. The former Celtic and Norwich City target man was brought in as their marquee forward for the season, however, the Englishman never found his feet. He did score a belter of a goal though against ATK Mohun Bagan.
They would like to wipe this season off their memory. In terms of statistics, this was their joint-second worst season of the Indian Super League. In the 2018-19 season, they won just two games and in 2015 they won three. The lack of goal-scorers and leaky defence summed up their season. Even a change of coach didn’t help.
Highest goal scorer: Jordan Murray: 7
No. of clean sheets: Albino Gomes: 3