Kerala Blasters FC won 2-1 against our bitter rivals Bengaluru FC, at the GMC Stadium Bambolim.
The game started with the Men in Yellow setting up in a 4-4-1-1 formation, which has been our go-to formation in past games, it seems Kibu has found a system that the team is comfortable playing. The visitors set up in a 4-3-3 formation with Chhetri playing through the middle rather than the flanks. Murray was leading the line with Sahal on the left, Rahul on the right, and Hooper playing as the second striker. Sahal and Murray pressed well initially but it was clearly obvious that they were missing Facundo Pereyra. However, Sahal and Murray along with Hooper brought out their A-Game and were complimenting each other very well.
Rahul was getting a lot of space on the right side. There were many promising runs by Rahul through the right flank causing the opposition to work hard to minimize the threat. Our left side was equally active in the attacking index as the live wire Sahal has been continuing his good form and is pressing and shielding the ball well.
As the game progressed chances were coming for both teams, and conceding from set-pieces has been a concern for us this season. Clieton was left unmarked inside the box in a BFC throw in and the visitors exploited that and scored the first goal. But the notable thing is apart from set-pieces BFC did not really trouble our defence much. Sandeep looked good playing at right back. And the same can be said for Jeakson at CB. Denechandra at LB also deserves a mention as he did really well replacing Jessel. Vicente and Juande were the midfield pairing. Juande played deeper, which allowed Vicente to move further up.
In the second half we had to change the whole system as Murray was off owing to an injury. Puitea came on and played as RW with Rahul moving to the Second Striker position and Hooper up top. The mentality and the work rate the boys showed despite being one goal down must be praised. Our equalizer is a fruit of that and credit goes to the resilience of the boys to come back and believe in themselves.
Rahul had a chance to get the winner but the shot was on his weaker side and couldn’t trouble Gurpreet. Kibu deserves credit for sending in Seityasen to play on the left and switched Rahul to right. When BFC won a throw in the 94th min, Kibu gambled and left Rahul up the field for a chance to counter. The gamble paid off as Rahul took on their Leon and used Sandeep as a dummy to strike a low powerful shot which was too hot to handle for Gurpreet.
There is a significant improvement in the team, especially the Indian players. It has been evident from the start that this is a young team and will take time to be a consistent force. Kibu has improved all these young Indians and there is more to come. Moving ahead it’s a tight schedule for us. We have to train hard and focus on each match to keep our playoff chances intact.