Hero ISL 2022-23: What to look forward to in Matchweek 4?
Matchweek 4 of Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 was filled with entertainment, with plenty of goals being scored at the death.
East Bengal FC finally opened their account for the season with a comprehensive win over NorthEast United FC while Bengaluru FC and Chennaiyin FC slumped to their first defeats of the season. Hyderabad FC sit top of the table, just one point over FC Goa, who have a game in hand. Mumbai City FC and Jamshedpur FC shared the points in an exciting game that saw Lallianzuala Chhangte scoring on his 100th Hero ISL appearance.
Odisha FC, who finished Matchweek 3 with a comeback win over Kerala Blasters, will be involved in the first game of Matchweek 4 with a tough clash against Bengaluru FC. The biggest game to look forward in this Matchweek is the Kolkata Derby, which is the second fixture in Saturday’s double header which comes after Kerala Blasters FC vs Mumbai City FC. Jamshedpur FC and NorthEast United FC will lock horns in the final game of the Matchweek.
As Matchweek 4 approaches, here’s a look at the key narratives to keep an eye out for:
Javi faces former club Odisha FC
All eyes will be on Bengaluru FC midfielder Javier Hernandez as he goes up against his former employers Odisha FC at the Kalinga Stadium. The Spaniard has spent three seasons in the Hero ISL so far, the previous one with the Kalinga Warriors in Hero ISL 2021-22.
Although Odisha FC couldn’t reach the playoffs last season, Javi Hernandez was arguably the most influential player for the Bhubaneswar-based side throughout, shining in his first season with the club. Hernandez recorded six goals and five assists for Odisha, which was his best-ever goal contribution tally in a single Hero ISL season.
The Spaniard already has an assist to his name this season with the Blues and he will be eager to prove a point to his former employers.
A high-octane clash in Kochi
Will witness a battle between two settled teams who will be well aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. KBFC and MCFC were among two of the four sides who have not changed their head coaches from last season and both sides have managed to retain their majority of their core from the previous campaign.
In 16 meetings between the two sides so far, MCFC have ended up on the winning side on six occasions, while KBFC have managed to win four.
The Blasters recorded two of those four wins from last season, as they did the double over the Islanders. KBFC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic will be aiming to continue his perfect record against MCFC, and there’s no better opportunity for him to do it at home after two back-to-back defeats this season.
A tough away test for unbeaten Gaurs
The Gachibowli Stadium will witness another enticing fixture as Hyderabad FC host FC Goa in what will be a top-of-the-table clash. Both sides are among two of the three sides yet to be beaten this season, besides Mumbai City FC.
While Hyderabad FC lead the standings with seven points after three games, the Gaurs have accumulated six and have a game in hand. This is FC Goa’s third straight away game on the road, and they will face a stern test from the defending Hero ISL champions, who have been on song.
The match will also pose a challenge for FC Goa’s defence, who have shipped only one goal from two games so far. Meanwhile, Hyderabad FC have scored the most number of goals this season, netting seven times in three games.
Hero ISL’s first Kolkata Derby at the VYBK
The Kolkata Derby will take place at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan for the first time in Hero ISL as ATK Mohun Bagan and East Bengal FC battle it out in the City of Joy. A rivalry that has seen the city divide in two sets of fans, holding a deep-entrenched history in Indian football, will see both sides fight it out for more than just bragging rights.
Both ATKMB and EBFC come into the derby on the back of a win and that will add some spice to the fixture. However, there’s no doubt that the Mariners will be the favourites, having maintained a 100% win record in the past two seasons with four wins in four games.
Pressure mounting on NorthEast United FC
It has been a tough start to life for NorthEast United FC so far in Hero ISL 2022-23 with the Highlanders facing defeats in all three of their games. Marco Balbul’s side currently sit bottom of the table, having scored just one goal while conceding seven.
To add to their woes, NEUFC have been dealt a further blow with the injury of midfielder Romain Philippoteaux, who has emerged as a livewire in midfield.
NEUFC have created promising chances in all their games, but the inefficiency in finishing those has cost them dear. The Guwahati-based side need to convert their chances if they are to change their fortunes for the good.