Hero ISL returns to Guwahati as struggling NorthEast face Kerala

NorthEast United FC host Kerala Blasters FC in Match 76 of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Friday. This will be the first Hero ISL match at the venue since December 18, 2019.

With 11 points from 13 matches, the Highlanders are out of the reckoning for a top four spot and will look to use their remaining league matches to finish as high up the table as possible. The Blasters are out of the top four race already and will have the same objectives in their mind. Nevertheless, both units will be eager to finish the season on a good note and therefore, could go all out and treat fans to a belter of a game.

NorthEast United FC

Despite the club enjoying a decent start to the season, Robert Jarni and Co find themselves ninth in the table heading into the final few weeks of the league stage. 2020 has, especially, been disappointing for the Highlanders, with the team yet to find the back of the net this year. They’ve managed just 49 attempts at goal since the start of 2020 – the second lowest numbers behind Jamshedpur FC during the period.

Inefficiency in defence, particularly in second half of matches, has seriously hurt the club of late. Jarni’s backline has let in five second half goals in the last four matches. The team has also been winless in the competition since November 6 of last year and are in the midst a nine-match winless run, including back to back losses in their last four.

Asamoah Gyan’s injury has played a big part in this disappointing run, with the club lacking the finesse in the attacking areas post the Ghanaian's departure. The likes of Redeem Tlang, Martin Chaves and Andrew Keogh have, so far, failed to step up and fill the void. The Highlanders, however, will take heart from the fact that the Blasters have the league’s second worst defence, and have been particularly vulnerable in their last three matches.

Kerala Blasters FC

A 6-3 defeat at the hands of Chennaiyin FC in the last match ended the Blasters’ hopes of finishing in the top four. Their defence was, once again, uncertain and played a telling part in the final result. The club has now lost three games on the bounce, conceding a whopping 12 goals in the process.

What’s even more worrying is that the team has allowed opponents just 141 shots so far this season – the lowest tally in the division - but still conceded 27 goals in their 15 matches. The Kochi-based club has had to pay dearly for individual errors at crucial junctures, which have directly led to goals against them, thereby turning the tide of the fixtures against them.

On the bright side, though, striker Bartholomew Ogbeche is in red-hot form. The 35-year-old scored the first hat-trick of this season in the last match against Chennaiyin, taking his tally to eleven goals for the season. Seven of these eleven have come in Kerala’s last five matches. Trailing Golden Boot frontrunner Nerijus Valskis by just a single goal, the Kerala hitman will look to equal or even overtake the Chennaiyin striker on Friday. Ogbeche’s strike partner Messi Bouli, however, will miss the tie due to a suspension.

Probable line-ups:

NorthEast United FC: Subhasish Roy (GK), Mislav Komorski, Provat Lakra, Wayne Vaz, Rakesh Pradhan, Lalengmawia, Simon Lundevall, Federico Gallego, Ninthoi, Jose Leudo, Andrew Keogh

Kerala Blasters FC: TP Rehenesh (GK), Mohamad Rakip, Vlatko Drobarov, Jessel Carneiro, Gianni Zuiverloon, Mouhamadou Gning, Sergio Cidoncha, Halicharan Narzary, Jeakson Singh, Sahal Abdul Samad, Bartholomew Ogbeche

Did you know?

  • NorthEast have earned just 5 points at home so far.
  • Kerala have won just a single match away from home this season.
  • Overall, NorthEast have scored just 9 goals this season.

Live Broadcast Schedule:

Hero ISL 2019-20 Match 76: NorthEast United FC vs Kerala Blasters FC

Date: February 7 (Friday)

Time: 7:30 PM onwards

Channels: Star Sports Network

Streaming: Hotstar and Jio TV

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