When Kerala Blasters took on ATK Mohun Bagan in the inaugural match of the seventh season of the Indian Super League (ISL) about four months ago, the two players who impressed me the most were centre-backs Costa Nhamoinesu and Bakary Kone.
In that particular match, both were diligently professional and complemented each other to protect the wall, and I expected them to form a solid partnership at the heart of Blasters' defence throughout the season. Looking back, I realise that I was totally wrong about them.
If the poor and passive defence is the obvious chink in Blasters' armour, the main culprits are these two seasoned campaigners. Looking at their incredible physique and the vast experience they possessed, I hoped that they would be a towering presence in the backline, but they failed to deliver on both counts.
The ISL is largely viewed as a retirement destination for ageing stars and, going by their performance in many matches, both Kone and Costa appeared to be enjoying a vacation in India. Many goals came through costly individual errors made by the duo.
I strongly believe that local defenders would have done a better job. In fact, Hyderabad FC have shown us how to do it. Coach Manuel Roca reposed his faith in two Indian youngsters to marshal the wings and the two played key roles in their 4-0 demolition of Blasters.
(The writer is a former captain of the Indian football team)