Thiruvananthapuram: The eagerly anticipated second phase of the 10th season of the Indian Super League (ISL) is set to kick off early next month, and the Kerala Blasters currently find themselves at the top of the ISL points table. With 26 points from 12 matches, the Blasters lead the pack, closely trailed by FC Goa with 24 points, having played two matches less than the Blasters have played. Teams like Odisha FC, Mohun Bagan, and Mumbai City also pose a challenge in the race for the shield.
While the Blasters, under Coach Ivan Vukamanovic, showcased their excellence in the first phase, the road ahead in the second phase presents its own set of challenges. Let’s delve into some hurdles that the Blasters may encounter:
The very first challenge is the absence of key player Luna. The absence of key player Luna poses a significant concern for the Blasters. Although the team managed to secure victories in the last few matches of the first phase without Luna, his absence, particularly at crucial times during matches, could be a challenge for the Blasters. Luna’s experience and ability to change the game at any moment will be missed, and it remains to be seen how well the newly acquired Fedor Cernich can compensate for his absence.
The second challenge that the Blasters are going to face is the absence of home matches. Out of the 12 matches played so far, the Blasters enjoyed the advantage of playing at home, capitalising on the positive atmosphere. However, in the second phase, the scenario changes, as the Blasters have only four matches left in Kochi. This shift poses a considerable challenge for the team to maintain their momentum in a less familiar setting.
The third challenge is that the teams that were perceived as weaker in the first phase have bolstered their squads with new players for the second phase. The rise of Jamshedpur FC, previously considered a weaker team, exemplifies this trend. Several teams have strengthened their rosters, making the competition tougher for the Blasters in the upcoming matches.