Kerala Blasters host long-term nemesis and two-time final beaters ATK at home to prove a point and make the right noises.
FULL TIME ANALYSIS: It wasn’t the most exciting opening to an Indian Super League edition, but ATK will be cursing their luck at not going home with all three points. The defending champions went close in the second half through Zequinha’s shot which struck the post, but couldn’t make the ball go in. Both teams proved themselves to be pretty solid defensively but will have a lot to work on as the season progresses. This is Uttiyo Sarkar signing off for Khel Now tonight! Good Night Ladies and Gentlemen.
90+3 ATK get the late possession after the corner. But the defending champions can’t seem to go beyond the half-line and seem to be happy with a point on the day as the final whistle blows.
90+1 Kerala go close! A corner is whipped in by Jackichand Singh and finds the head of Dimitar Berbatov just inside the penalty area, but the weak header almost creeps into goal before Debjit holds onto it.
90′ Three minutes of extra time is going to be added!
88′ ATK find some space in Kerala’s midfield once again as Zequinha receives the ball in a promising position but can’t do anything. The defending champs then receive a corner and the ball goes high up in the air and hits ATK defenders head before Rachbuka can catch it, but the ball goes just over the bar.
84′ Both teams look to be pretty exhausted at this point of time. It has been a grinding opener for both teams, as we have to see which team will show the most where-with-all to go for the win at this point.
81′ There’s just around 10 minutes remaining in this opening match of the ISL. It hasn’t been the most exciting of games, but there’s still time for the teams to get all three points. Kerala make two changes, as Perkuson is taken off for Jackichand Singh. CK Vineeth also goes off for Prasanth Karuthadathkuni.
78′ Kerala Blasters enjoy some possession outside the ATK box and another inviting cross is put into the box, but Jhingan’s header is cleared off by Thorpe. Kerala try to control possession, but Berbatov is dispossessed by the ATK defense.
75′ ATK capitalize on Kerala Blasters being down to 10 men and launch 5 players into attack. The ball is played to Robin Singh who beats his man and plays in a ball from the edge of the penalty area, but Hitesh Sharma fails to control the ball and squanders a glorious chance for the Defending Champs to go ahead. Meanwhile Robert Nongrum goes off for Bipin Singh for ATK.
73′ Dimitar Berbatov seems to be frustrated with his side’s game so far. He goes over to Rene Meulensteen to voice his opinion to the coach. Courage Perkuson seems to be injured and is stretched out.
70′ ATK GO CLOSE ONCE AGAIN. The ball is played to Zequinha once again and the winger drifts in and hits a curling attempt which hits the post and is cleared, much to the frustration of the ATK camp.
68′ Kerala Blasters go on a counter-attack after that corner and the ball is passed to Berbatov, who takes the ball into the ATK penalty area but a last-ditch challenge from Thorpe averts the danger and sends the ball away for a corner. The corner is a dangerous one, but Majumder shows great strength and punches it away once again.
66′ The defending champions keep possession and attack through the left-wing this time as a brilliant ball is played in for Robin Singh, whose shot is blocked by Nemanja Lakic Pesic and goes off for a corner.
64′ ATK gets the ball as Eugeneson sees some space in the middle with Zequinha free in that space. He passes to the Portuguese and Zequinha takes another shot from afar, forcing a low save from Rachbuka.
62′ It’s a surprising move from Meulensteen to take off Hume for an ISL Debutant. The former ATK player was struggling after taking that knock. ATK make their first sustitution as Kuqi goes off for Robin Singh.
60′ Kuqi tries to mount another attack through the right, but the ball is taken from a Blasters player. The Blasters make their first substitution of the game, as Iain Hume goes off for Markos Sifneos.
58′ ATK receive a corner after a move from the right. A great ball is played in from the corresponding set-piece and meets a thunderous header from Jordi, which is saved by Rachbuka but the whistle goes off for a foul on a Kerala Blasters player. Top save regardless!
55′ Zequinha receives the ball on the left wing with a bit of space ahead of him. He manages to show impressive skill and beats his player, but his poor cross is collected by Rachbuka.
53′ Berbatov seems to be playing in a deeper, more creative role for the Blasters in this half with Hume ahead of him. ATK continue to attack through that left-hand side, but Vineeth is playing a bit more defensive to cover for Anto.
50′ Berbatov drops deep and wins the ball in midfield for Kerala, as the ball is played right to CK Vineeth who drifts in and hits a surging shot from his left-foot, which is palmed away by Debjit. The ball falls to a Kerala player in the box, but his shot is botched and is secured by the ATK defense.
48′ Kerala Blasters look much sharper this half as Milan Singh wins the ball from Keegan. The ball is passed around to Berbatov, who is stopped by an ATK defender and the danger is cleared once again.
46′ The second half kicks off! Kerala Blasters seem to be pumped up and attack through the right. But a poor cross is cleared away from the ATK defense.
HALF TIME ANALYSIS: It’s been a cagey match so far, with ATK dominating much of the possession in the half. The defending champions look like a well-oiled machine and aren’t letting The Blasters dangerous attack threaten. ATK went closest to the goal through Hitesh Sharma, forcing a brilliant save from debutant goal-keeper Paul Rachbuka. Kerala needs to assert some dominance in midfield in the second half, as Rene Meulensteen has a lot of talking to do in the break.
45+2 The Blasters launch another attack before the break and Milan Singh receives the ball in midfield with space ahead of him, launching a powerful shot which is wide of the mark and is the final play of the first half!
45+1′ Nyazi Kuqi gets the ball around the half-line and charges into the middle with the ball, before launching a thunderous shot from around 40 yards out which goes straight to the arms of Rachbuka. 2 minutes of added time is announced.
44′ Kerala Blasters enjoy some possession outside ATK’s penalty area, as Anto’s first cross is a poor one. But it’s badly cleared by ATK and the ball finds it way to the right-hand side again, where another cross is launched but it’s punched away strongly by the assertive Majumder.
42′ ATK get another corner and Keegan Perreira makes another dangerous cross which is collected well by Rachbuka. The Blasters go on the counter attack, but the final cross is a poor one and cleared by the defending champions.
40′ Dimitar Berbatov has been forced to drop deep as he collects possessions and passes it to the right. Rino Anto gets the ball, but his cross is an awful one which continues the frustration for the Blasters fans and players.
38′ Kerala are struggling to take the ball away from ATK and cannot maintain possession in this match. They have been giving the ball away on numerous occasions, something which has been really irking the fans.
35′ ATK continue their attack through the left, with left-back Keegan Perreira launching a beautiful cross into the box which goes just over Kuqi. The ball then falls to Rupert on the right side of the penalty area, but he can’t do anything about it.
32′ ATK mount an attack through the left and Zequinha tries a curling cross into the box, which curls a bit too much and goes well over the post, much to the relief of Rachbuka.
29′ Chance for Kerala! A long ball is played in from Lalruatthara searching for Dimitar Berbatov, but Debjit Majumder marches in and punches the ball to safety.
27′ Another chance for ATK after an inviting ball is crossed into the box. But Sharma fails to go past his man and get to the ball, before a Blasters defender scampers to clear the ball. ATK continue maintaining possession inside Kerala’s playing side.
25′ ATK receive a free-kick after Rupert Nongrum is brought down some yards outside the box. The resulting free-kick is poor from Jordi, as it hits the bar and is collected by Kerala’s English keeper.
23′ Teddy Sheringham has been the more vocal amongst the coaches today. He has been constantly standing in his area and shouting instructions to the players. His counter-part Rene Meulensteen is a much calmer man on the other hand.
21′ Iain Hume goes down for Kerala Blasters. He seemed to strike his head against an ATK player, but he gets up seconds after the ball is played out.
19′ The Blasters’ midfielders are trying to play high-up to stop ATK from controlling the ball in midfield. Eugeneson has been marked tightly. An attack is mounted from the left by ATK and the ball falls to Njazi Kuqi, but his weak shot is collected by Rachbuka.
16′ Kerala almost self-destruct when they make a bad back-pass which is almost found by Zequinha, before Rachbuka clears it away. ATK themselves also give away the ball in midfield after that, but The Blasters cant capitalize off it.
13′ Chance for ATK! The defending champions manage to penetrate the Kerala Blasters defense and the ball lands for debutant Hitesh Sharma, whose powerful shot it saved well by Paul Rachbuka.
11′ Kerala Blasters later receive a corner, which Hume blasts in but is cleared well by ATK. Sheringham’s side is looking to cool down the tempo of the game and try to create from the back.
8′ Eugeneson Lyngdoh shows some impressive skill when he plays a through ball to the marauding Prabir Das. Lalruatthara hits a clean tackle and sends the ball away for a corner, which results in nothing.
5′ ATK seem a bit shaky in defense, as Tom Thorpe fails to clear the ball which lands to the feet of Milan, who hits a thunderous shot which goes just wide of the post.
3′ ATK are dominating possession early in the game. But they almost get caught out by former player Iain Hume, who forces ATK’s defender to give the ball away to Milan Singh. The midfielder’s ambitious shot from a long way out is way wide of the mark.
1′ And the game kicks-off! ATK kick-off the opener and will be attacking from the right to left. The defending champions go on the attack right from the start.
19:59 The players shake hands with each other and the celebrities. Sachin Tendulkar gives a hug to each Kerala Blasters player. We’re close to kick-off now!
19:57 The teams are making their way into the pitch along. The crowd goes wild watching their heroes make their way into the pitch for the first time this season. The national anthem is played.
19:55 We are now minutes away from the opening match of ISL 4 between Kerala Blasters and ATK. Who do you think will come out as victors? Write in the comments below.
Image ©- ISL pic.twitter.com/ViWYA8ubuW
— Khel Now (@KhelNow) November 17, 2017
19:50 But the best is left for last, as Malayalam Cinema legend Mammootty makes his way to the stage, holding the match ball in his hand! The fans absolutely love him here in Kerala! He talks about how proud it is for Kerala to host the ISL opening match this season and then hands over the match ball to Nita Ambani.
19:45 Salman Khan then brings back Katrina to the stage. She says that she’s going to support Kerala Blasters this time, much to the delight of the fans. Salman then talks about the grass-roots program introduced by the Reliance Foundation and ISL. Mrs. Nita Ambani then makes her way to the stage and speaks of her delight of being here for the opening match.
19:40 Salman introduces the players and Tendulkar to the crowd. The Kerala Blasters owner says of how confident he is off his team winning the ISL this season. ATK’s captain doesn’t get much love from the fans.
19:35 The Kerala Blasters captain Sandesh Jhingan and Sachin Tendulkar come out to send the crowd in raptures. ATK’s captain Jordi also comes out, with the defending champions submitting their trophy to the ramp.
19:30 Salman Khan comes out to deafening cheers. He rides a bicycle around the stadium to greet the fans and then hypes up the upcoming season of the ISL. Sallu Bhai then shows off some moves of his own in his hit songs, before being joined by Katrina to end his performance on a high.
19:25 Katrina Kaif dazzles with her performances to some of her Bollywood hits. The crowd seems to love her in Kochi!
19:20 Here are the line-ups for today.
Kerala Blasters XI: Paul Rachbuka; Rino Anto, Sandesh Jhingan, Nemanja Lakic Pesic, Lalruatthara; Milan Singh Ongnam, Arata Izumi, CK Vineeth, Courage Pekuson; Dimitar Berbatov, Iain Hume
ATK XI: Debjit Majumder; Prabir Das, Thomas Joseph Thorpe, Jordi Figueras Montel, Keegan Pereira; Rupert Lamlang Nongrum; Conor Thomas, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Jose Egas do Santos Branco, Hitesh Sharma; Njazi Kuqi
19:15 The Opening Ceremony is minutes away from starting here at Kochi. Bollywood stars Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif are scheduled to perform in what is assured to be a glittering inauguration to the latest ISL season.
Kerala Blasters look ready to take on the Indian Super League opponents with fire & flair this season
Read our exclusive preview with coach’s comments, predicted line-ups and formations & tactics: Kerala Blasters host ATK in star-studded curtain raiser to ISL 4
19:00 Hello and welcome to the Live commentary of the season opener of ISL 2017-18between hosts Kerala Blasters and ATK. This is your host Uttiyo Sarkar standing by to bring you all the action as it happens at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi.