Both Kerala Blasters and ATK Mohun Bagan are entering this match of the Indian Super League on the back of contrasting results. While Kerala Blasters thrashed ATKMB’s arch rivals East Bengal 3-1 in the first match, the Mariners suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of old foes Chennaiyin FC.
Following their dream start to the ISL campaign where new signing Ivan Kalyuzhnyi stole the show after coming on from the bench, hosts Kerala Blasters will be looking to secure their first triumph over ISL giants ATK Mohun Bagan at home at the Jawaharlal Nehru on Sunday.
ATK Mohun Bagan has been a bit of a bugbear for the side from Kochi and they have endured a difficult time squaring up to their opponents on Sunday. With that being said, Blasters under new head coach Ivan Vukomanovic have been a rejuvenated side and the stakes going into this encounter are expected to be completely different.
The hosts couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season as they got off to a flier against another Kolkata giant in East Bengal FC. Three second-half goals from the side secured a 3-1 win in Kochi. Adrian Luna opened the scoring in the 72nd minute while Kalyuzhnyi came off the bench to make a drastic impact.
He scored a brace of goals inside just seven minutes to announce himself to the league in stunning fashion. Even though East Bengal pulled one back through Alex two minutes before the end of the game to make it a nervy finish, Kalyuzhnyi’s second was enough to settle the contest once and for all.
The final result also put an end to Kerala Blasters’ indifferent first half start where they managed to create a few chances but failed to capitalise on any of them. Adrian Luna will again be the key man for Vukomanovic’s side and Kaliuzhnyl’s dream debut may tempt the coach to put him in the playing eleven.
Despite the performances, head coach Vukomanovic’s plans will be a matter of conjecture going into this game. When he was asked about Blasters’ poor record against the Mariners, he only had songs of praise about the opposition. That being said, there would be nothing but a win would be the perfect morale boost for the Kochi-based side before they travel for their first away match against Jamshedpur next week.
ATK Mohun Bagan, meanwhile, will be in a completely different mood heading into this encounter as they let their first-half lead slip away and allowed Chennaiyin to crawl back into the game with the match ending at 2-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.
The Mariners’ second-half implosion at home will be a major cause of concern for head coach Juan Ferrando who will be asking for more composure from his men going forward. Defence has also been an issue for the Kolkata giants at the early stages of the season.
They did lacklustre in the opening encounter with Chennaiyin but nerves were settled when Manvir Singh found the back of the net three minutes before the half-hour mark. Going into the half-time break, the onus was on ATK Mohun Bagan to continue with the same tempo and maintain their focus on the game.
However, Kwame Karikari converted a 62nd minute penalty to bring the visitors back into the game and restore parity in the match at 1-1 Despite dominating possession and having more shots at the rival goal, ATK made defensive errors, which were capitalised on by its rival.
They got the sucker punch which was coming their way in the 82nd minute through Rahim Ali. ATK Mohun Bagan failed to hold on to a lead against Chennaiyin FC and have struggled to find the net consistently. They had 15 shots against the Machans, but scored just once.
ATK will look to avoid similar mistakes against Kerala Blasters. The Kolkata side will also look to neutralise the high pressing, free flowing game which has brought rewards for the Kochi side. However, ATK will have its task cut out against its rival, whose confidence is sky high.
KB vs ATKMB, Indian Super League 2022/23
Date: 16th October, 2022
Time: 7:30 PM IST
Venue: Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi
Kerala Blasters Indian Super League form:
ATK Mohun Bagan Indian Super League form:
Kerala Blasters wins: 0
ATK Mohun Bagan wins: 3
Kerala Blasters Team News:
There are no injury concerns for Kerala Blasters ahead of this match.
Ukrainian midfielder Ivan Kalyuzhnyi will be the player to watch out for as far as the Yemnum Yellow are concerned. On loan from Ukrainian Premier League club Oleksandriya, he was in dazzling form in the season opener against East Bengal. After coming off the bench in the 79th minute, he scored a wonderful brace of goals.
His debut goal came after just three minutes. The first of his goal was a breath-taking finish after dribbling past the East Bengal defence from midfield. The 24-year-old then doubled his tally seven minutes later with a left-footed volley, helping his side to a 3-1 win. He was named the Hero of the Match for his performance.
ATK Mohun Bagan Team News:
There are no injury concerns for ATK Mohun Bagan ahead of this match either.
Indian international Ashique Kuruniyan joined ATK Mohun Bagan from Bengaluru FC earlier this season. He has impressed in the Indian Super League over the years, and made his official ISL debut for the Mariners in the first game against Chennaiyin. He was deployed as a left wingback in the season opener and if he plays in that position again, he will have the tough job of trying to neutralise Adrian Luna.
Kerala Blasters possible starting lineup:
Prabhsukhan Gill (GK); Harmanjot Khabra, Marko Leskovic, Hormipam Ruivah, Jessel Carneiro; Puitea, Jeakson Singh, Sahal Abdul Samad, Adrian Luna, Dimitrios Diamantakos, Apostolos Giannou
ATK Mohun Bagan possible starting lineup:
Vishal Kaith (GK); Pritam Kotal, Brendan Hamill, Subhasish Bose; Manvir Singh, Deepak Tangri, Joni Kauko, Ashique Kuruniyan; Liston Colaco, Hugo Boumous, Dimitri Petratos
Form and history will both be under the spotlight heading into this encounter between two of the most passionately supported clubs in the ISL. Kerala Blasters have began with strong form and their free-flowing attacking display has caught the eye. That attacking expressiveness is expected to trouble ATK Mohun Bagan’s lacklustre defence who were guilty on several occasions in the last game. Blasters will be high on confidence and they will back themselves to break the drought against Mariners.