Fans' support will help us against Odisha FC: Kerala Blasters FC's Ishfaq Ahmed
Kerala Blasters FC assistant head coach Ishfaq Ahmed expressed it's going to be one of the most important match of this season as the Yellow Army welcomes Odisha FC at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi in their next fixture of Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23.
Kerala Blasters FC and Odisha FC would look to get all three points as both teams have the equal number of points and with ATK Mohun Bagan's defeat to NorthEast United FC, a win will help either of the teams jump to the third position on the Hero ISL points table.
"I think it's a very important match, I'd say it's one of the important match of the season as they (Odisha FC) have the same number of points as us and I think we have been playing good football, we've been playing with respect but it's our home match and with the support of home fans and home ground advantage we should achieve something positive in the match and we're pretty much confident."
Kerala Blasters FC's winning run of five matches was halted by Chennaiyin FC in the last match as the points were shared at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai with Vincy Barretto, scoring against his previous team.
"It's the past. I think we dominated them. They started well first and then after we scored the goal, we got good half chances. But in away matches, it won't be easy for many teams to play against Chennaiyin FC. They had mixed results but they are a good team. Sometimes, in away matches, one point is not a bad result. The most important part of this campaign is for us that we haven't lost in the last six matches and hopefully, we continue this streak and move on further ahead in the table."
In the reverse fixture played at Odisha FC's home stadium, the Yellow Army failed to get the three points, Pedro Martin's goal in the 86th minute was the deciding factor and Ivan Vukomanovic's men would be looking to grab the bragging rights and a victory would be the perfect way to bury down the old results.
"We will continue the same way we have been playing because that is what has been giving us positive results in the last six matches. I don't think there will be anything different, but yes, with a lot of respect to the opponent, they have been doing quite well. We will try to avoid the mistakes that we made against them in the previous match which was a long way back" Ahmed added when asked about whether Kerala Blasters FC will change their style of play against Odisha FC.
"After that we fixed a lot of things. We also changed our approach to games. That's how we got these results. On the physical part, we've improved a lot. We've got wins against teams who had bigger players, who rely on set pieces such as Jamshedpur FC."
"We've improved a lot since then and I think we're ready for the challenge. We'll go with a positive frame of mind. We can't wait for the match."
Ishfaq Ahmed was accompanied by the midfielder, Jeakson Singh. The reliable midfielder has started all ten games for the yellow army and he'll be a crucial figure as Kerala Blasters FC push on to solidify their position in the playoffs.
"I think the match (previous match against Odisha FC) was going pretty well and we were winning 1-0 but we conceded, I think a very easy goal. We gave them an easy goal and they came back. It was their home match, maybe it was an advantage for them but the match was tough, not easy." Jeakson expressed about the last fixture against Odisha FC.
Jeakson Singh has partnered with Ivan Kalyuzhnyi to be the backbone of the team as the midfielders have started together every game after the 2-0 loss against Mumbai City FC and the team is yet to lose with the pair playing as a double pivot in the middle of the park.
"Last time I was playing with Puitea (Lalthathanga Khawlhring) . He's also a good player. Now, with Vanya (Kaliuzhnyi) we suddenly started playing together. We both are starting to know each other well but before, in the first two-three matches, we weren't completely understanding each other, what he wants to do and what i want to do," Jeakson said.
"Now I think we've become more understanding of each other. It's good for the team, it's good for both of us to perform well and to help the team to win matches," he added.