Hero ISL 2022-23: What to look forward to in Matchweek 22
The final matchweek of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) is on the horizon, and there are teams that will be looking to finish on a strong note and fight for pride while trying to get rewards for all the work done throughout the season. Matchweek 22 is where all eyes will be.
The previous match week saw a number of teams confirm their place in the top six, while only one place remains to be filled, and it will be a keen contest to see who takes it among Odisha FC and FC Goa, who are separated by three points going into the final matchweek.
In the opening fixture, Odisha FC welcome Jamshedpur FC to the fortress that is Kalinga Stadium in a bid to qualify for the playoffs. FC Goa will also have the same objective when they travel to Bengaluru to face the Blues.
Chennaiyin FC and NorthEast United FC will lock horns against each other, while the weekend brings a huge fixture, the Kolkata derby, where East Bengal FC and ATK Mohun Bagan will take the field.
The final game of the final matchweek sees Kerala Blasters FC come up against second placed Hyderabad FC.
With the playoffs on the horizon, Matchweek 22 takes the field, and here are the key narratives to keep an eye on in the upcoming week:
Jamshedpur FC to spoil the Juggernauts' playoff party?
Odisha FC currently sits in the sixth spot in the Hero ISL points table after winning three points against the Highlanders in the last game.
Odisha FC have won two consecutive games and will play against Jamshedpur FC, who themselves will try to finish on a strong note while trying to spoil the party for the home side. While a win will all but guarantee the Juggernauts’ place in the top six, the Red Miners wouldn't want to give them an easy ride to the playoffs.
Bengaluru FC will look to break FC Goa’s hearts.
Bengaluru FC sit comfortably in the fourth spot in the Hero ISL table, with FC Goa looking to qualify for the playoffs despite being three places below the Blues in seventh.
Bengaluru FC have been the best team since the turn of the year, while FC Goa are coming off two defeats. Carlos Pena's men are three points away from the sixth place heading into a must-win game away from home against a team in good form and with a lot of momentum.
FC Goa head coach Carlos Pena was optimistic after the defeat against Chennaiyin FC in the last game and said his side “will fight until the last minute” and will look to earn all three points against the Blues on Thursday.
A battle for pride in Chennai.
Both Chennaiyin FC and NorthEast United FC fell short while trying to qualify for the playoffs, and now they will look to put in a performance that will showcase the hard work they have done throughout the season.
The reverse fixture was a high scoring game in Guwahati, and both teams will try to replicate the same performance when they lock horns in Chennai. The Highlanders will be keen to end the season with a victory, which will be their only second of the season, and they have nothing more to lose, according to their head coach Annese.
It will certainly be a contest worth keeping an eye on when the Marina Machans take on the Highlanders in the last matchweek of the Hero ISL 2022-23 season.
In the Kolkata Derby, who has saved the best for last?
East Bengal FC and ATK Mohun Bagan come up against each other in what is the biggest fixture in Indian football, the Kolkata Derby, at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan. Both the teams have nothing to lose as they are at the opposite and contrasting ends of the Hero ISL table.
The Red and Gold Brigade are in the ninth spot with 19 points and are coming off a big win against new champions Mumbai City FC, so confidence will not be an issue for them. The Mariners, meanwhile, sit in third place with 31 points and will be highly motivated to play in the Derby after securing their spot in the playoffs.
They say the best is left for last, and it is indeed going to be a match one would not want to miss, the Kolkata Derby.
Blasters looking to avoid a third consecutive loss.
In the final game of the final matchweek of the Hero ISL 2022-23, two teams that have qualified for the playoffs will play for points and to gain momentum going into the important part of the season.
Kerala Blasters FC and Hyderabad FC have both suffered defeats in their respective previous encounters, and it will be worth looking forward to see who comes out on top and finishes the group phase on a strong note.
With Hyderabad FC having secured second place in the points table with 39 points, Kerala Blasters FC can finish in the top three with a win in front of their home crowd.