6:30 PM: Hello everyone and welcome to Khel Now’s LIVE COVERAGE of the Kerala Blasters vs East Bengal match in the Indian Super League 2022-23. The kick-off is just half an hour away! I’m your host Vinayak S Sivan, and I’ll be keeping you company through what promises a fascinating evening of football. Please wait for 30 Seconds for the Live blog to load.

Match Report: Kerala Blasters vs East Bengal

Kerala Blasters vs East Bengal: Build-up

The 2022-23 Indian Super League kicks off on Friday, with last season’s runners-up Kerala Blasters facing East Bengal. It’ll mark the return of fans for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the Blasters, it’ll be a case of giving back to their ever-faithful fans and helping give them some joy. But, for East Bengal, it’ll be all about spoiling the hosts’ party. With both sides vying for the title this season and having the intentions of exceeding expectations, this should be a highly-entertaining clash.

The Stakes

Kerala Blasters

It was a case of ‘so close, yet so far’ for Kerala Blasters last season. After having a fairy-tale run to the finals, they suffered a crushing defeat to Hyderabad FC at the very last hurdle. This time, Ivan Vukomanovic’s side will attempt to finish the job from last season.

Kerala Blasters vs East Bengal Preview: Read here

They’ve undergone a change in squad, with the likes of Jorge Pereyra Diaz, Enes Sipovic and Alvaro Vazquez all moving on. But, the Blasters have recruited smartly and built up a very competitive squad for the season.

Now they have to prove that they are no ‘one-season wonder’ under Vukomanovic. The Blasters will be under pressure to win the opener, as it is at home and against a newly-built squad like East Bengal’s. A win is expected, but they have to be careful knowing that losing or dropping points can be an early momentum dropper that can derail their entire campaign.

East Bengal

With new investors on board, East Bengal are hoping to change their fate in this edition of the ISL. So far, it’s been a disappointing ride for the Red & Gold Brigade, who have finished in the bottom half of the table in the past two seasons.

But, they’ll hope that their first ISL season in front of fans can mark as a new dawn for them. With ex-India manager Stephen Constantine on board, they finally seem to have a balanced and competitive squad.

It’s now time for them to break free of the curse of the bottom places. While they might not be favoured to win this, the opener against Kerala Blasters is crucial for Constantine’s side. A win can make a real statement that they’re no more the ‘weak side’. A draw or a crushing loss can again result in pressure to creep in and supporters start questioning the project again.

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