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ISL 2023-24 season review: Kerala Blasters

Published at :May 27, 2024 at 12:00 PM
Modified at :May 27, 2024 at 12:00 PM
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(Courtesy : ISL Media)

Alen Philip Mathew

Kerala Blasters reached the playoffs again but missed out on reaching the final this time.

Kerala Blasters FC‘s 2023-24 ISL season was a rollercoaster ride of high hopes and missed opportunities. Despite their passionate fan base and consistent performances, the long-awaited ISL title has remained far for them. The 2023-24 season was no different, as the Blasters aimed to finally clinch the title. With a history marked by three ISL finals losses, the hunger to emerge victorious was more intense than ever. Their fervour was mirrored by the passionate Manjappada and the loyal fans who yearned to witness their beloved team lift the trophy. The team started strong, contending for the top spot by mid-season. However, injuries and inconsistencies plagued their performance, ultimately leading to a fifth-place finish and a quarter-final exit.

Kerala Blasters started their 10th ISL campaign with high hopes, swiftly establishing themselves as frontrunners by securing the top spot in the league table by the year-end. However, their journey was hectic, as a string of injuries plagued key players. Ishan Pandita, Marko Leskovic, Aiban Dohling, Jeakson Singh, Freddy Lallawmawma, and Vibin Mohanan were among those sidelined, with Adrian Luna’s season-ending injury being the most devastating blow. Despite these setbacks, the emergence of young talents like Mohammed Aimen, Mohammed Azhar, and Vibin Mohanan provided a silver lining in return for the challenges.

Unfortunately, the result of injuries and suspensions made a severe blow to Kerala Blasters campaign, culminating in a fifth-place finish in the league table with 33 points. Their quest for the title was curtailed by Odisha FC in the quarterfinals, leaving fans disappointed and yet hopeful for the future.

Fact Sheet for Kerala Blasters FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24

ISL 2023-24 season review: Kerala Blasters

Top Performers

Dimitrios Diamantakos

ISL 2023-24 season review: Kerala Blasters Dimitrios Diamantakos

Despite the setbacks, some Blasters players emerged as bright spots. Dimitrios Diamantakos, the Greek Beast was a standout performer for Kerala Blasters throughout the season. Despite some injury concerns on occasion, his commitment and stellar form remained evident throughout. Diamantakos’s ability to single handedly alter the course of a game in favour of the Blasters underscored his prowess.

His physical dominance coupled with clinical finishing enabled him to consistently find the back of the net, amassing an impressive 24 chances created, 23 shots on target, 53 duels won, and boasting a remarkable 41% goal conversion rate.

Adrian Luna

The Uruguayan midfield magician Adrian Luna was exceptional at the start of the season, with the most number of goal contributions, but he suffered an injury that made him lost almost the rest of the season and only played one game in the quarter-final. Despite featuring in only 10 matches, Luna managed to net 3 goals and provide 4 assists while creating 28 scoring opportunities.

His absence from the lineup undoubtedly impacted the team’s dynamics, leaving fans to ponder how different the season’s outcome might have been had he remained fit and available throughout. As one of the fans favourite players in Blasters history, they are hoping for his retention in the upcoming season, despite the offers from rival clubs in the ISL.

Sachin Suresh

Sachin Suresh, the young goalkeeper, solidifies his position as an integral component of the Blasters squad. Despite his season being cut short due to injury, Suresh showcased exceptional talent and composure throughout his 15 appearances. With 5 clean sheets to his name, along with 33 saves and 2 penalty saves, he showcased outstanding shot-stopping ability and agility, crucially lifting out his team on numerous occasions. Sporting an impressive 68% save rate, Sachin’s contribution proved instrumental in the team’s defensive solidity and overall performance, earning him accolades and support from fans. His contract extension until 2026 signals the club’s confidence in his abilities, with hopes pinned to scale greater heights in both at the domestic and international levels.


Rahul KP

ISL 2023-24 season review: Kerala Blasters Rahul KP
Rahul KP can do better than what he did in the 2023-24 season. (Courtesy: ISL)

However, not all players lived up to expectations. Rahul KP, a highly-rated young talent, had a disappointing season. Despite featuring in 19 matches, Rahul struggled to find the back of the net, registering zero goals and just one assist. This season was one of the worst seasons he contributed to the club. He was incoincident and fans were so disappointed with his performance, the quality and difference in the attack was lacking from his side this season.

The absence of his trademark flair and cutting edge in the final third was missing, as he struggled with inconsistency and failed to make a meaningful impact on the pitch. While he has contact till 2025 with the club, speculation looms over the possibility of a potential move to another ISL outfit.

Prabir Das

Prabir Das, a seasoned campaigner, arrived at Kerala Blasters with huge expectations but failed to make a significant impact. In 8 appearances, Das struggled to solidify the defence, with the team managing just one clean sheet during his tenure. His inconsistency and lack of impact left fans frustrated.

Prabir’s defensive stability was poor in the season, highlighting the need for improvement and consistency in his performances. With his contract till 2026 with the club, it’s his chance to rediscover his best form and repay the faith invested in him by the club and its supporters.

Top Performances

1. Kerala Blasters FC 4-2 FC Goa

2. Mohun Bagan 0-1 Kerala Blasters FC

3. Kerala Blasters FC 2-0 Mumbai City FC

Manager’s Report Card

ISL 2023-24 season review: Kerala Blasters Ivan Vukomanovic
Ivan Vukomanovic parted ways with Kerala Blasters recently. (Courtesy: ISL)

Ivan Vukomanović, the beloved Serbian head coach, oversaw his third season with the Blasters. He deserves credit for elevating the Blasters from a midtable team to consistent playoff contenders but ultimately failed to win their title aspirations. He achieved several milestones this season, including securing consecutive three playoff appearances by the same coach for the first time in ISL history and registering wins in both Kolkata fixtures, breaking a longstanding negative trend.

However, his tenure wasn’t without criticism. Vukomanović faced criticism for his substitution choices, often deemed too late in the game. He was also questioned for his lack of a clear ‘Plan B’ when faced with situations like the injury crisis. Ultimately, the failure to deliver the long-awaited title led to his departure after the season’s conclusion.

Lessons to be Learned

Despite the disappointment, the season provided valuable lessons for the Kerala Blasters. The 2022-23 season for Kerala Blasters served as a valuable learning experience. The importance of maintaining consistency throughout the season was a crucial takeaway. The relentless injury woes highlighted the importance of a strong bench and a well-defined strategy for dealing with player unavailability became abundantly clear. Moving forward, the club needs to prioritize depth and adaptability in its squad.

Looking ahead, Kerala Blasters must focus on securing quality replacements during the transfer window to build a strong squad.

The search for a new manager is underway. The ideal candidate will need to build upon Vukomanović’s work, address the team’s vulnerabilities, and cultivate a winning mentality. The passionate Kerala Blasters faithful remain optimistic, hoping for a season that will finally see their beloved team break the title curse.

Fan View

ISL 2023-24 season review: Kerala Blasters Anandhu Prasad
Anandhu Prasad.

We have been watching games at JLN, Kochi since 2015. Considering this season, we were really happy that KBFC were on top of the ISL table at the halfway stage. The two games that gave us the most happiness were the home games against Bengaluru FC and Mumbai City FC. Injuries were hurting us throughout the season and in the second phase we lost the momentum.

We only missed two home games this season. We were present for nine games at East Gallery. Watching a game at JLN, Kochi alongside the huge crowd is an experience of a lifetime for anyone. The chants, viking claps and every single moment at the stadium is an emotion for us. The tifo unveiling before kick-off is also a major thing to experience.

Ivan Vukomanovic was with us for three seasons and it was the first time in our club’s history that we had a coach for three seasons. We will have a new coach next season and are expecting better intent and results in every aspect.

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