Durand Cup 2022: Youthful Kerala Blasters FC face Mohammedan SC challenge in first quarter-final
A young Kerala Blasters FC side will face a stern test against hosts Mohammedan SC as they take on the Kolkata giants in the first quarter-final of the Durand Cup at the Salt lake stadium in Kolkata on Friday.
The talented and young Blasters side have shown they are capable of turning the tables on the best in Indian football on their day and they will hope they can cope with the challenge of Mohammedan SC who have been in top form in the Durand Cup so far. The winners on Friday take on the winners of the third quarter-final between Mumbai City FC and Chennaiyin FC, which is scheduled for Sunday.
Mohammedan will enjoy home advantage with about 40,000 plus supporters expected to cheer them from the stands. The hosts will also benefit from the fact that they have not had to travel like the Blasters have from Guwahati and so will be relatively fresher.
Mohammedan will also be in a confident mood having qualified as group toppers from Group A, which also had the likes of Bengaluru FC in it, besides defending champions FC Goa. They have a settled look to their side with all positions well covered and Trinidadian talisman Marcus Joseph has not only been scoring but has turned out to be a lethal creator this year which bodes well.
KBFC on the other hand have qualified as the second team from Group D behind Odisha FC. All matches of that group were played at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati.
Kerala lost to a clearly superior Odisha FC but held out for a good draw against Sudeva FC and then beat NorthEast United FC, before stunning Army Green for a place in the last eight. They are a side brimming with young talent in all positions.
The combination of Mohammad Aimen and Mohammad Azhar are a handful with the former striking three times in the tournament so far and is currently among the top scorers. Mohammad Ajsal is another talented centre-forward in their team which is also blessed with highly proficient Tejas Krishna at the back with captain Sachin Suresh as safe as a house under the Blasters bar.
In addition, one of the goals of the tournament has been scored by their talented left-wing back Aritra Das and Vibin Mohanan, an India age-group international, has been marshalling resources from midfield with aplomb. The group also gives the impression that they have been playing together and enjoy playing together, factors so important in a team sport like football.
Polish Manager Tomasz Tchorz however was aware of the quality of their Friday opponents and was guarded in the pre-match presser saying, “We are happy to take part in this tournament. And we are hungry to do good here. The motivation for tomorrow's match will be that we are going to play against a good team in the I-League. Our team will be ready to show their talent. The supporters who are going to come and support us, I just want to say that we are going to give our 100%. Definitely Mohammedan will be having more supporters but it won't matter. We are ready to fight on the field".
A highly competitive fixture in front of a full house awaits us on Friday and it will set the tone for the knockouts going forward.
Mohammedan SC’s match against Kerala Blasters FC is scheduled for 6 PM IST on Friday and will be telecast LIVE on Sports18, Sports18 HD and Sports18 Khel and will be streamed LIVE on Voot Select.