Kalinga Super Cup: Kerala Blasters begin campaign; Jamshedpur FC face NorthEast United FC
Three ISL teams begin their respective campaigns on Wednesday.
Three Indian Super League (ISL) teams will begin their Kalinga Super Cup campaigns on Wednesday as Kerala Blasters FC take on I-League side Shillong Lajong and Jamshedpur FC take on NorthEast United FC.
Kerala Blasters FC who are top of the ISL table will look to end their long wait for silverware by winning the Kalinga Super Cup, a competition where they haven’t had the best of performances over the years.
Jamshedpur FC and NorthEast United FC reached the semi-finals of last year’s competition and will look to at least repeat last campaign’s heroics.
Kerala Blasters eye strong start
With a full-strength team, Ivan Vukomanovic’s side will start the tournament as one of the favourites and will have to live up to that tag from day one as they take on Shillong Lajong at the Kalinga Stadium Pitch 1 in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday.
Placed in a group alongside fellow ISL outfits in NorthEast United FC and Jamshedpur FC, the margin for error is minimal for the Blasters who will look to reach the semi-finals of the Super Cup.
Dimitri Diamantakos who has led the charge for the Blasters this season with seven goals will be the main man for the South Indian outfit. His clever movement and precise finishing will come in handy against a Shillong Lajong side that is expected to sit back and defend in numbers. His strike partner Kwame Peprah has also been in fine form and has developed a strong understanding with Diamantakos.
With just ten goals conceded, the Blasters have the league’s fourth-best defence which is marshalled by the likes of Milos Drincic who has been a rock in their defence. The Blasters will miss Pritam Kotal who is away with the Indian team at the AFC Asian Cup
Lajong are doing well in the I-League on their return to the competition and find themselves fifth in the table. They have won five matches, drawn four and lost just two matches this season and will be a tough first assignment for Vukomanovic’s side.
The match will kick off at 2:00 PM IST and will be streamed on Jio Cinema.
Jamshedpur FC and NorthEast United FC lock horns
Jamshedpur FC will look to make a fresh start to their season as they take on NorthEast United FC in the Kalinga Super Cup at the Kalinga Stadium Main Pitch on Wednesday in the evening kick-off.
The Men of Steel who parted ways with head coach Scott Cooper will look for improvements under Khalid Jamil who replaced the Englishman at the helm.
Jamil who inspired NorthEast United FC to a semi-final in the 2020-21 season will look to do the same at Jamshedpur FC starting against the Highlanders.
Intensity on the pitch! 🔥 Join us behind the scenes as Jamshedpur FC gears up in a relentless training session, preparing for the epic clash in the opener of Kalinga Super Cup 2024 against North East.#JamKeKhelo #KalingaSuperCup #football #indianfootball pic.twitter.com/6yVZFRm2pZ— Jamshedpur FC (@JamshedpurFC) January 9, 2024
Jamshedpur FC are tenth in the ISL table with just two wins in the season so far but the playoff spots are very much within reach for the 2021-22 League Shield Winners as they trail sixth-placed NorthEast United FC by just three points.
Jamil who is known to lift the younger players in the team will look at the Super Cup as an opportunity to mould the team as per his style and get them firing by the time the ISL returns. Daniel Chima Chukwu has found form in recent times and the Men of Steel hope he will carry that form in the Super Cup and enhance the team’s chances of progressing to the semi-finals for the second season in a row.
NorthEast United FC have put up a much-improved show in ISL 2023-24 and currently sit in the playoff places albeit by a fine margin. The Highlanders have played much better football under Juan Pedro Benali and seem to be on the way up.
Young Parthib Gogoi has been impressive for the Highlanders and would like to replicate his Durand Cup heroics in the Super Cup when he scored four goals, helping them reach the semi-finals.
With just one team set to qualify for the next round, this game is a must-win match for both teams with league leaders Kerala Blasters FC being the other team in the group and providing intense competition.
The match will kick off at 7:30 PM IST and will be streamed on Jio Cinema.