Talking Point: Can Kerala Blasters FC put a damper on NorthEast United FC’s semis aspirations?

Match 107 of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 will see NorthEast United FC take on Kerala Blasters FC with an eye to the semi-finals. The two sides will meet at the Tilak Maidan Stadium on Friday, and a win or a draw will be enough for the Highlanders to make it to the top four. With points at stake for one side and pride for the other, here we take a look at some talking points ahead of the encounter. 

Can Jamil become the first Indian coach to lead a Hero ISL team to the semis?

NorthEast United FC need just a point from their game to qualify for the top four. If they achieve that, Khalid Jamil will become the first Indian head coach to achieve this feat in Hero ISL history. Since Jamil took over the reins on an interim basis in January after the departure of Gerard Nus, they have won 18 points in eight matches and haven’t lost even once. They will also take encouragement from their record against Kerala Blasters FC. They have four draws and a win in their last five matches and will hope to continue this unbeaten run, which is exactly what they need.

Kerala Blasters FC’s defence has let them down this season

Led by Gary Hooper and Jordan Murray, Kerala Blasters FC's attack have been one of their best attributes this season. However, their defensive problems have let them down considerably. They are now five matches without a clean sheet and have shipped 12 goals during this period. In total, they have conceded 34 goals this season and largely due to this, they ended up losing 18 points after scoring the first goal. If they want to end their season on a high, this aspect needs to be addressed without delay. 

Can Kerala Blasters FC slash the Highlanders hopes?

Although Kerala Blasters FC are not in the race for the top four, they can very well spoil NorthEast United FC’s party. Although a point against a struggling opposition will be enough to put them in the semis, a defeat for the Highlanders can bring down their chances considerably. And this will be quite a motivation for the Blasters. With nothing to lose, they are more than capable of putting a damper on the Highlanders plans. 

 

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