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ISL 2022-23: ATK Mohun Bagan faces stern Kerala Blasters challenge in a sold-out Kochi

2022-23 ISL continues in full flow. On Sunday, ATK Mohun Bagan will be up against Kerala Blasters in Kochi in front of a sold-out crowd. Having lost its opener, it would be a pressured situation for ATKMB.

Indian Super League 2022-23 preview: ATK Mohun Bagan faces stern Kerala Blasters challenge in a sold-out Kochi-ayh
First Published Oct 16, 2022, 7:00 AM IST

Kerala Blasters FC (KBFC) gears up for its second straight Bengal challenge as it hosts ATK Mohun Bagan in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Sunday. KBFC eased past East Bengal FC on the season’s opening day, while The Mariners succumbed to a late goal against Chennayin FC and will be looking to earn its maiden season points on the board. After a flawless start to the season, playing in front of a stadium packed and roaring with fans in Kochi, KBFC will look to build on the swiftness and seal its first-ever conquest over ATKMB in the tournament. The Mariners are the only side against whom the Tuskers are yet to attain a victory in four tries.

The Blasters will be joyful to see Adrian Luna picking up where he left off. The Uruguayan scored a superb volley as he netted the opening ISL goal of the season. The Tuskers’ attack-minded psyche was unmistakable, as no other player had more touches on the ball than Luna (71).

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Substitutes also played a vital role in Blaster’s success. A couple of minutes after their introduction into the match, Bidyashagar Khangembam and Ivan Kalyuzhnyi united to net the Tusker’s second goal of the evening. Eight minutes after, with his second shot, Kalyuzhnyi scored again. It would be mesmerising to see if that enactment earns the Ukrainian midfielder his maiden start or whether head coach Ivan Vukomanovic will cling to the identical starting XI, aware that he has an ace up his sleeve.

“Most foreign players, after coming to India, think that getting into the team and playing ISL will be easy. With Kalyuzhnyi, we want to take it step-by-step, adapting him to the new environment, system, team and players, and this is a gradual process. In the first game, we decided he’ll start from the bench. He’s young and has great qualities that can help turn up the game’s tempo and change its rhythm,” stated Vukomanovic.

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Convalescing from the opening-day howler, ATKMB would aim to snare its 25th win of the ISL. The Mariners have had a heavenly head-to-head record against KBFC, but it will be the first time it faces the yellow brigade in its backyard. Striker Manvir Singh, who has been implicated in all of ATKMB’s ISL matches since its birth, scored the opening goal last time. The 26-year-old is its leading Indian goal-scorer and appears qualified to score in two consecutive contests.

Liston Colaco was the name missing from the starting XI in ATKMB’s last match. The attacker came on as a substitute in the second half, but the Mariners lost their grip on the contest and finally allowed CFC to score the late winner. No tweak to the formation is anticipated, but head coach Juan Ferrando will consider including Colaco in the starting XI. The backline is predicted to be the same, with Subhasish Bose, Brendan Hamill and Pritam Kotal in front of Vishal Kaith.

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“This is football. When you win or lose the matches, the important question for the staff is why we won or lost. From our point of view, we lost because we did not have many clear details about the opponents. Apart from the technical and tactical aspects of the game, we also have to account for player emotions. However, I have faith in this team, and the team has faith in me”, declared Ferrando.

It would be just the fifth encounter between these two sides. In the earlier four meetings, 16 goals were scored. The Mariners have scored ten goals and won three matches, while the Tuskers have hammered six and won none.

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