Chennaiyin and Kerala square off in highly-anticipated southern derby
Thursday’s tie at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai between Chennaiyin FC and Kerala Blasters FC will be more than just a match of football for the thousands of spectators watching. This intense rivalry, spanning five years now, has given us some of the most memorable moments in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL). The stakes for Thursday’s encounter have been raised especially considering the poor form of both sides and the pressure faced by John Gregory and David James. Fans across the country can expect an exhilarating night filled with passion, quality and edge of the seat action.
Chennaiyin FC finally thought that a resurgence was on the cards after their victory over FC Pune City earlier this month. However, they were humbled by Jamshedpur FC, leaving more unanswered questions for Gregory and Co. The defending champions find themselves stranded in ninth place with just four points on the board. Perhaps the biggest concern for Chennaiyin has been the ineffectiveness of their strikers in front of goal. Jeje Lalpekhlua, Carlos Salom and Mohammed Rafi have combined for just one goal so far. Questions have to be asked of the strikers and how they can raise their game to ensure positive results for Chennai.
One bright spark for Chennaiyin though has been the form of Raphael Augusto. The Brazilian playmaker has amassed the second-highest number of passes in the league (584) and the most tackles (43). He has firmly established himself as a pivotal player in the team and will be called upon to deliver the goods against Kerala.
Here’s a look at Chennaiyin’s season in numbers:
The most frustrating aspect of Kerala’s season so far has been their inability to close a match. The Blasters have conceded a total of seven points from winning positions. Had they collected those points, they would have been in contention for a spot in the play-offs. In addition, the heart-breaking loss to NorthEast United FC would have severely dampened the spirits of most of their players. Things are looking bleak for Kerala and answers are quickly needed if they are to salvage their season.
Sandesh Jhingan will be under the limelight after his performance against NorthEast United. Kerala’s captain put in a Hero of the Match performance, but then turned villain when he conceded a needless penalty in the dying minutes. Despite the error in judgement, the rest of the team will be looking to their stalwart to guide them through these troubling times. Upfront Matej Poplatnik will be brimming with confidence after picking up his second goal of the season against the Highlanders. His partnership with Halicharan Narzary will prove crucial to Kerala’s chances of usurping their neighbouring rivals.
Here’s a look at Kerala’s season in numbers:
CHENNAIYIN FC: Karanjit Singh (GK), Inigo Calderon, Eli Sabia, Mailson Alves (C), Jerry Lalrinzuala, Anirudh Thapa, Germanpreet Singh, Francisco Fernandes, Raphael Augusto, Gregory Nelson, Jeje Lalpekhlua
KERALA BLASTERS FC: Dheeraj Singh (GK), Sandesh Jhingan (C), Nemanja Lakic-Pesic, Cyril Kali, Prasanth K, Nikola Krcmarevic, Seiminlen Doungel, Keziron Kizito, Sahal Abdul Samad, Halicharan Narzary, Matej Poplatnik
DID YOU KNOW?
- Kerala are winless in their last 7 matches (4 drawn, lost 3).
- If Kerala lose this match, they will become the first team to lose four matches in a row this season.
- Three out of the last four matches between the two sides have resulted in draws.
Which south-Indian side will come out on top in the derby?
- Chennaiyin FC
- Kerala Blasters FC
Have your say in the comments section below.
Catch the match live on the Star Sports Network, Hotstar and Jio TV from 7:30 PM.