Hero ISL 2022-23 key fixtures, February 2023: Gripping fixtures await in the final month of the league stage
February will be the final month of the league stage of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season that will serve us the ultimate showdown of India’s premier football league as teams will either cross the finishing line or bow out of the race for ineffable glory.
A month that will shape up the race for the knockouts, February 2023 beckons an illuminating month that will see the efforts of five months culminating into one Hero ISL League Shield Winner and the valiant top six who will battle further for the playoffs.
Here are the key fixtures to watch out for:
Bengaluru FC vs Kerala Blasters FC (Saturday, February 11, 2023, Bengaluru)
A sporting contest that will see the clash of two sizeable teams battle it out alongside their two mammoth-sized supporters who will leave no stone unturned to turn this spectacle into a larger than life event, in a month that might see the two sides fighting for the highest of honours in the league.
The Blues have always got the better of the Tuskers at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium as they’ve never lost a single game when they host the Kerala side at home.
With goals always in store when these two sides face each other, it will be an enticing match as every minute of the game will be crucial for the two given their situation in the league during that month.
NorthEast United vs Odisha FC (Friday, February 17, 2023, Guwahati)
A contest that sees two new managers at the sideline will boast of a new style of football and fresh faces on the pitch as the Marco Balbul-led side will take guard at their home turf against the newly led Odisha FC by Josep Gombau.
Winless against the Kalinga Warriors in the last season, the Highlanders will look to return to winning ways with the help of their faithfuls as the two sides have three wins apiece across eight matches, with the remaining two matches ending in draws.
A brand new, fresh identity in both sides will instil a great footballing atmosphere as neither side would be ready to take their foot off the gas in such an intriguing and crucial month of fixtures.
FC Goa vs Chennaiyin FC (Thursday, February 16, 2023, Goa)
The history of this rivalry between these two sides goes back to the 2015 Hero ISL final where Chennaiyin FC stole the thunder from the Goan side in the dying minutes of the game with two quick-fire goals to turn the tide and lift the trophy.
Ever since, the fixture has been a fan favourite among the two sides and has always been the centre of goals, seeing an astonishing 79 goals scored in 21 matches, with FC Goa holding the upper hand over the Marina Machans with 11 wins while the latter having eight wins.
With two new coaches in Carlos Pena and Thomas Brdaric, the brilliance and enthusiasm of the game will be celebrated with even more fervour with the fans back in the stands, who will be holding a crucial key when these sides meet at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa.
Odisha FC vs Jamshedpur FC (Saturday, February 25, 2023, Bhubaneshwar)
Having won only once against the Red Miners in the 2018-19 season, the Kalinga Warriors will turn towards new head coach Josep Gombau to bring fortunes to the club as Jamshedpur FC have found consistency in dismantling the Bhubaneshwar-based side over the years.
With 34 goals in 10 matches, the fixture crops up a delicious prospect as both sides will undergo a tactical change under their new managers as Aidy Boothroyd will look to set a precedent with his Hero ISL League Shield winning team.
But Odisha FC will be banking on the support of their fans to aid them in scripting an all-important win against Jamshedpur FC.
East Bengal FC vs ATK Mohun Bagan (Saturday, February 25, 2023, Kolkata)
A match, a rivalry, a derby that needs no introduction comes to the fore at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata that will be greeted by both sets of fans for the first time in the history of Hero ISL. The Kolkata derby will set everyone’s hearts racing as the two teams collide in a feisty clash where both clubs will go neck-to-neck for the three points.
The Mariners have overpowered the Red and Gold Brigade, having a 100% win record in the four occasions that the two sides have played each other in the Hero ISL. With a new head coach in Stephen Constantine, East Bengal FC will be looking to exact revenge on their fellow rivals and register their first victory.
The packed stadium in Kolkata will surely be one of the factors to deliver an intimidating atmosphere as more than 50,000 fans will enliven the game to the next level.
Kerala Blasters FC vs Hyderabad FC (Sunday, February 26, 2023, Kochi)
Surely there would have been no better way to end the league stage of the 2022-23 campaign than to replay the final of the 2021-22 campaign. Two of the few teams that still have the same manager, the tactical brilliance of Ivan Vukomanovic and Manuel Marquez will be the highlight of this intense game.
Both sides are undefeated at their home turf, and with the gigantic support of the KBFC faithful, it will be a tough nut to crack for Hyderabad FC, to beat the Blasters at their home stadium in front of thousands of Blasters’ fans.
In seven matches between the two sides, the reigning Hero ISL champions hold the edge over the Blasters with four wins while the latter have won on three occasions. With 21 goals across all matches and no draws in this fixture, the contest will purely be a fascinating one, especially when it’s the curtain-raiser for the playoff stages.