The team needs reinforcements in a few areas in order to improve next season.

Kerala Blasters have announced the appointment of their new head coach Ivan Vukomanovic. The Serbian replaced Kibu Vicuna, who departed the club before the end of the 2020-21 season. The Indian Super League outfit will hope the new tactician can turn their fortunes around next term. 

The outfit also decided against retaining any of their foreign players from the previous season. All eight foreign players have also departed the club and one can expect quite a few new arrivals this summer. Vukomanovic will need to identify the problem areas in the squad and reinforce those in the transfer window.

KBFC fans passionately support their club and they deserve to enjoy some long-due success. The club must recruit well in order to improve on their 10th place finish in the seventh edition of the ISL. Therefore, here is a look at the five positions KBFC should strengthen under Ivan Vukomanovic:

Defensive Midfield

Kerala Blasters will need to fortify their defence, as they leaked a lot of goals in the previous campaign. They conceded 36 goals, which was the second-highest amongst all the teams in the league. Vicente Gomez was a consistent performer, but a lack of cohesion cost the club a lot of goals.

Vukomanovic must identify a solid and reliable defensive midfielder who can provide cover to the backline. Someone like Cole Alexander or Edu Bedia would suit the squad. The possible candidate must also possess the ability to distribute the ball well to initiate attacks from deep.

Striker

Football is a simple game, the team which scores the most goals wins. Kerala Blasters did not retain either Gary Hooper or Jordan Murray, the club’s top scorers in the 2020-21 season. While Murray was a surprise performer for many fans, Hooper turned out to be a disappointment.

Kerala Blasters must sign a reliable figure who can score goals on a regular basis. A proper No.9 who can bring the attacking wingers into play and finish with aplomb. The club also need to pay particular attention to the shortage of domestic strikers n their roster and we believe that some talented names can be found in the I-League as well as the fringes of ISL clubs.

Left-Wing

A left winger with experience and attacking intent is a definite requirement. Rahul KP and Sahal Abdul Samad are good options, but they are still very young to perform consistently against tough opposition. From what is known about Ivan Vukomanovic already, he tends to rotate his playing XI and will need enough squad depth to his tactics. 

His gameplay relies on wingers to make runs into the channels and cross the ball for options in the box. A few players that can fit the role include the likes of Halicharan Narzary, Bipin Singh, Ashique Kuruniyan and so on. An experienced foreign player can also fulfill this role if need be.

Right-Back

Kerala Blasters signed Nishu Kumar from Bengaluru FC ahead of the 2020-21 season. The move was highly ambitious, as Nishu is regarded as one of the finest young right-backs in the country. However, the debut campaign for the 23-year-old did not go as smoothly. He played nine games and also suffered an injury.

The Yellow Army looked weak without Kumar’s presence on the right flank. They should bring in cover for the young defender who also has experience under his belt. Someone like Reagan Singh could play a similar role.

Centre-Back

One of the most vital positions that needs an immediate fix is centre-back. Last season, Kerala Blasters brought in Costa Nhamoinesu and Bakary Kone in order to shut out opposition attackers. However, the duo disappointed in their first and what could well be their only season in the league. Prior to the appointment of Ivan Vukomanovic, the club decided to release both foreigners.

They will now need to recruit new players in the same position once again. In our opinion, the Yellow Army direly need a figure who can lead from the back, marshall the troops and be the leader that the team needs. The management must look for a player with prior ISL experience and seek a foreign-domestic combination. Most ISL clubs that were successful employed a domestic player with an experienced foreign centre-back, who could lead the defensive line.

Kerala Blasters surely have some rising stars in their defensive department – but the lack of experienced names could affect them.

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