Kerala Blasters FC talisman Adrian Luna’s arrival has had a paradigm shift in the club’s Hero ISL 2021-22 season, reigniting the subdued fire in the club’s ambitions and becoming a beloved and an unparalleled asset for the club and the fans alike.

The Uruguayan became head coach Ivan Vukomanovic’s wingman and forged a livery of relentless performances that not only made him an instant fan favourite but also saw him break into the club’s all-time assist leaders, making his way into the top assist-provider with seven assists to his tally, in his very first season of the Hero ISL with Kerala Blasters FC.

Luna’s weaving magic had done it all but win the Hero ISL title for the Blasters as his side suffered a heart-breaking defeat in a final that went down to penalties where eventual champions Hyderabad FC turned out to be the better side. However, the 30-year-old doesn’t want to stop here and is confident of turning his club’s dreams into reality.

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“We enter the field for the Hero ISL 2022-2023 season with the dream of winning the title. What was lost last season must be gained this time. For the hope the fans and management have placed in the club, we just need to deliver a good result. The entire team is on a journey to achieve that goal,” Luna told Samayam.

At the heart of the midfield, apart from just goals and assists, Luna also brought a torrent of attacking as well as defensive attributes, forging a crucial partnership with Sahal Abdul Samad in the attack and Marko Leskovic in the defence. The midfielder racked up 13 goal contributions offensively comprising six goals and seven assists while making 98 tackles, 38 blocks, 33 interceptions, and six clearances defensively. 

“It was a great experience to be able to form a partnership with Sahal Abdul Samad in the midfield last season. The success of the last season was because the alliances suggested by the coach could be implemented on the field. It was a great combination with Sahal Abdul Samad,” he added.

With an upset in the final of last season, the Ivan Vukomanovic-led side have added reinforcements in defence as well as attack to add to the missing piece of the puzzle that might boost their chances of lifting the Hero ISL League Winners’ Shield and the Hero ISL Champions trophy. After the departure of Alvaro Vazquez and Jorge Pereyra Diaz in the attack, the Blasters have replaced them with Greek forward Dimitrios Diamantakos and Greek-Australian attacker Apostolos Giannou.

“There is no doubt that the presence of Greek star Dimitrios Diamantakso and Australian-Greek Apostolos Giannou in the forward line will influence the outcome of the match for Kerala Blasters FC. They are capable of making good results in the new season. They also have great experience in international arenas,” said Luna.

The Blasters will also be having the services of new signing Ivan Kalyuzhny who slots in the midfield and will be aiding Luna in the centre of the park.

“The arrival of Ukraine player Ivan Kalyuzhnyi in the team will increase the strength of the midfield. Having good foreign players in the midfield and forwards has added strength to the team. Kerala Blasters FC has a better squad for the 2022-2023 season than last season. Everything else, we will wait and see,” the midfielder added.

In a season that was played behind closed doors, with a bio-bubble in place, the Blasters’ supporters got to witness their team just once, a chance that arrived in the Hero ISL 2021-22 final in Fatorda, Goa. Reliving the joy of watching football live again, the Hero ISL 2022-23 season is back where it belongs, as fans will be back at the stadiums after a period of two years, which serves as a huge boost to the teams.

“[The upcoming] 2022 - 2023 season will come directly in front of the ISL audience after a long time. The life of football is the fans, the game is never complete without them. The sound coming from the packed gallery will set fire in the veins of the players. Support during competition is most needed and Kerala Blasters FC fans are giving great support in that regard,” he averred.

The season opener of the Hero ISL 2022-23 season kicks off at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi as Kerala Blasters FC host East Bengal FC in a game that is long overdue for the KBFC supporters to witness the mighty army led by Ivan Vukomanovic.

“In the opening match of the season, when Kerala Blasters FC faces East Bengal Club, we have nothing less than a win in mind. The team's goal is to start the season with a win. East Bengal is a good team,” Luna concluded.

With Luna at the helm who is at the peak of his game, Vukomanovic has all the firepower in his arsenal to replicate last year’s performances, pulling the notch a bit higher, to go ahead and lift all the silverware that is there to win.