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After several seasons in the football jungle, where they were mainly fighting for survival with wooden spoons, Kerala Blasters are within walking distance of the semi-final point in the Indian Premier League.
The task at hand was to beat defending champions Mumbai City in the final game of the league stage and Yellow Brigade pulled off a dramatic 3-1 win over Des Buckingham’s side at the Tilak Ground in Vasco on Wednesday.
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The win helped them take Mumbai to fourth place by two points. Luck is now in their hands in the league final against FC Goa and one point should be enough to close the road to the semi-finals.
It will be the first time since 2016 that the Blasters have made it to the playoffs as Ivan Vukomanovic’s team has exceeded expectations this season. After a brilliant opening goal from Indian international Sahel Abdul Samad, Alvaro Vazquez scored two goals to set up three points.
Mumbai were recently impressed after a penalty kick from Diego Mauricio, but the Blasters mustered up the courage to secure a decisive victory.
The win helped them double the Islanders’ account, and most importantly, it took a huge step towards qualifying. For such a high stakes game, he did not get the services of top defender Harmanjot Khabra, who was suspended for two matches for dangerous play in the match against Hyderabad FC.
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Their head coach Buckingham suggested that their team stick to their approach to playing aggressive football. However, once the match began, the Blasters looked better from start to finish and were better able to handle moments of high pressure. Sahel gave his team the decisive lead in the 19th minute, thanks to a brilliant individual effort. The young attacking midfielder overcame Mumbai’s defense before Mohammad Nawaz’s handover from outside the penalty area calmed down.
It all ended when a costly mistake by Nawaz resulted in Vazquez’s third goal. When an hour passed, Woll attempted to return the ball to his goalkeeper. Nawaz’s attempt to clean the ball while scrambling went wrong Shot and the ball landed on Vazquez, who just clicked it. Mumbai was under pressure despite Mauricio being given life in the 71st minute from a penalty kick. However, the Blasters scored a famous victory.
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While Buckingham is under increasing pressure as it inherits a team that won the Shield and Cup last season but is on the verge of failing to finish in the top four, Fokomeneck’s shares are rising with each passing match.