A knee injury to Michael Soosairaj was the major talking point in the Kerala Blasters vs ATK Mohun Bagan ISL 2020-21 opener on Friday at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim. Though ATKMB snatched a narrow 1-0 win to announce their arrival in the Indian Super League, coach Antonio Lopez Habas was unhappy with his star player getting stretchered out.

The incident took place in 14th minute of the march when a clumsy tackle by Kerala Blasters’ Prasanth Karuthadathkuni caught Michael Soosairaj on the knee, who was fighting to hold the ball against his marker’ onrush.

While Soosairaj’s injury was serious enough for him to be substituted by Subhasish Bose early in the match, the match official decided to carry on with the game. Habas felt Kerala Blasters should have been awarded a foul for the relentless tackle.

"We have to evaluate the injury of (Michael) Soosairaj but the first time I saw him, it wasn't a good feeling. I think that the referee should have given a foul because the player had almost broken his knee. But it is not a problem. We have to provide support to Soosairaj so that he can recover immediately,” said the Spanish coach."

The winger’s absence was evident in ATKMB’s performance for the rest of the game as the left flank lacked creativity for the most part of the 90 minutes. However, ATKMB saw seasoned goalscorer Roy Krishna rising to the occasion to steal a win un the 64th minute, despite Kerala’s dominance with the possession.

Michael Soosairaj was instrumental in Habas’ title-winning 2019-20 season, where the 26-year-old had racked up three goals from the left. While the extent of his injury is still unknown, ATKMB fans would want to get him back as early as possible.

ATKMB sit at the top of the ISL points table with their next match against archrival SC East Bengal on November 27.

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