Talking Point: Can misfiring Kerala Blasters break through the NorthEast defence?

Northeast United FC stunned one and all when they registered a 1-0 win over a strong Mumbai City FC side in their opening game of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21. And now they face Kerala Blasters FC, who have a point to prove after losing to ATK Mohun Bagan in their first match of the 2020-21 campaign. Ahead of the game at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Thursday, let’s take a look at some of the factors which could prove decisive in deciding the outcome of the encounter.

NorthEast United’s strong defence will be hard to break down

In the previous game against the Islanders, Gerard Nus’ men displayed tremendous defensive ability, keeping Mumbai City’s renowned attackers at bay. Marshalled by Benjamin Lambot and Dylan Fox at the back, the Highlanders also witnessed a great performance from Khassa Camara, who was right chosen Hero of the Match. From a Kerala Blasters point of view, after their ineffectuality in front of goal against ATKMB, it will take some serious effort from them to breach the Highlanders’ defence.   

Youngsters on display for both clubs

Both clubs have brought in a number of young talents to their side. Nongdamba Naorem and Ritwik Das started on the Kerala wings against ATK Mohun Bagan and were tasked with creating chances for their main striker Gary Hooper. They will look to do better this time. Meanwhile, Nus fielded two of his young talents Ninthoinganba Meetei and Lalengmawia, and by all means they were impressive in the Highlanders win against Mumbai City. Once again on Thursday they will be the ones to watch out for.   

Gary Hooper needs to fire for Kerala to succeed

The Englishman was brought in to replace Bartholomew Ogbeche who scored 15 goals for Kerala Blasters last season, but Hooper is yet to show his full abilities on the biggest stage in India. The striker was not at his best against ATK Mohun Bagan and managed just one shot in the whole game. As a matter of fact, Hooper struggled to get involved all through with a passing accuracy of just 46.66. He also failed to create any chances for his teammates. Hooper will need to be razor-sharp in order to break down the NorthEast defence. If he doesn’t fire, it will be very hard for Kerala to earn their first points of the season. 

 

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