For the third consecutive season, Kerala Blasters and ATK will play the inaugural match in the Indian Super League. The last season’s opener was won by the Blasters 2-0 at Salt Lake Stadium.
However, Kerala failed to build on that victory and won just once in the next 17 league games. No wonder they finished second from bottom and with just 15 points from 18 league games.
But the new season gives new hope to the fans as the team underwent changes in the offseason. There is a new coach in Eelco Schattorie, and new players have arrived to bolster the squad.
In fact, Kerala have down away with their entire quota of foreign players from last season and have added the players like Bartholomew Ogbeche, Gianni Zuiverloon and Mario Arques, who have experience of playing in the Indian Super League.
So in a sense, Kerala will be starting from the scratch this season.
ATK, meanwhile, missed out on the playoffs last season. But the season was not entirely dissatisfactory as ATK were always in contention for the playoffs, missing out on the top-four by just three points.
The champions of the inaugural Indian Super League have also made significant changes to their roster for this season. They will go into the new season with their former head coach Antonio Lopez Habas.
The Indian Super League match will be played between Kerala Blasters and ATK at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (Kaloor Stadium), in Kochi, Kerala. The ground has a capacity of 40,000.
The game will start at 07:30 PM (IST), on Sunday, October 20.
Where can you watch the match live?
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Recent form (Last six matches)
This is the first game for both the teams this season.
Kerala Blasters Team News:
As mentioned above, Blasters have a new-look roster this season. But they will have to deal with the absence of their talismanic centre-back Sandesh Jhingan who is out for long term through an ACL injury.
Ogbeche, Zuiverloon and Arques will definitely garner the limelight, but the team also added Indian players such as Samuel Lalmuanpuia and Rahul KP to their roster this season.
Kerala Blasters squad for the 2019-20 season:
Goalkeepers: TP Rehenesh, Bilal Khan, Shibin Raj
Defenders: Abdul Hakku, Gianni Zuiverloon, Raju Gaikwad, Pritam Singh, Jairo Rodrigues, Jessel Carneiro, Lalruatthara, Mohamad Rakip
Midfielders: Mouhamadou Gning, Pragyan Gogoi, Halicharan Narzary, Jeakson Singh, Samuel Lalmuanpuia, Seityasen Singh, Sergio Cidoncha, Mario Arques, Prasanth Karuthadathkuni, Rahul KP, Sahal Abdul Samad
Strikers: Bartholomew Ogbeche, Messi Bouli, Mohammed Rafi
Kerala Blasters Probable XI:
TP Rehenesh (GK), Lalruatthara, Jairo Rodrigues, Gianni Zuiverloon, Abdul Hakku, Sahal Abdul Samad, Mario Arques, Sergio Cidoncha, Halicharan Narzary, Mohammed Rafi, Bartholomew Ogbeche
ATK FC Team News:
ATK went heavy in the transfer market to freshen things up. The biggest coup was certainly the signing of Fiji forward Roy Krishna. The 32-year-old player topped the scoring charts for Wellington Phoenix in A-League last season.
India international Anas Edathodika also signed with the two-time ISL champions, but he is unavailable for the first match as he serves a suspension against Blasters.
Forward Jobby Justin is also suspended for this match. The 25-year-old was handed a six-game ban last season for the disciplinary reasons.
ATK squad for 2019-20 ISL season:
Goalkeepers: Dheeraj Singh, Arindam Bhattacharya, Avilash Paul, Lara
Defenders: Anas Edathodika, Arnab Mondal, Agus Garcia, Ranjan Salam, Sandeep Singh, Anil Chawan, John Johnson, Aiborlang Khongjee, Ankit Mukherjee, Prabir Das, Ricky Lallawmawma, Sena Ralte, Pritam Kotal, Boris Thangjam
Midfielders: Hitesh Sharma, Gopi Yumnam, Cavin Lobo, Carl McHugh, Pronay Halder, Asish Pradhan, Michael Ragin, Sehnaj Singh, Ragav Gupta, Malsawmzuala, Javi Hernandez, Dario Vidosic, Michael Soosairaj
Forwards: Jayesh Rane, Komal Thatal, David Williams, Balwant Singh, Jobby Justin, Roy Krishna, Edu Garcia, H Lalmuankima
ATK Probable XI:
Dheeraj Singh (GK), Prabir Das, John Johnson, Agus Garcia, Pritam Kotal, Pronay Halder, Sehnaj Singh, Edu Garcia, David Williams, Michael Soosairaj, Roy Krishna
Likely to score:
Captain and Vice-Captain Selection:
Roy Krishna: Keep an eye on him. He may be new in ISL, but the 32-year-old Fijian is a proven talent at the very top level. He scored 19 times for Wellington Phoenix last season.
Bartholomew Ogbeche: The former Paris Saint-Germain striker is certainly a star attraction. The 35-year-old scored 12 times in 18 league games last season.
ATK: Joined ATK late last season but left a huge impression after scoring three times in the six-game he played.
Goalkeeper: A Bhattacharya
Defenders: P Das, G Zuiverloon, J Carneiro
Midfielders: Javi-Hernandez, Soosairaj, Cidoncha, H Narzary
Attackers: D Williams, R Krishna, Ogbeche
ATK vs KBFC Dream11 potential winner:
It’s the season’s first game. Both teams have a new roster as well. But Kerala should get something out of this match as they are at home.