Kerala, Goa face off in Kochi with respective points to prove
Kerala Blasters FC will be eager to arrest their steady fall down the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 points table with a positive result against FC Goa at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Sunday. The Gaurs, meanwhile, have their own axe to grind and will look to bounce back from the loss in their last match against Jamshedpur FC - their first slip up of the season.
Since their victory over ATK on the opening day of the season, Eelco Schattorie's men have been able to pick up just a single point in their subsequent four matches. What perhaps is, even more, worrying for the yellow brigade is the fact that the team has scored just a single goal and conceded four following their 2-1 win over ATK.
With frustration rising and the side steadily slipping down the standings, it's imperative that they start picking up points, starting with the match against Goa. It will, however, be a comprehensive task considering they have lost their last four against Sergio Lobera's side.
The onus will be on likes of Bartholomew Ogbeche, Sergio Cidoncha, Sahal Abdul Samad and youngster Rahul KP to deliver the creative spark in the final third. In defence, Schattorie will need to rely on Raju Gaikwad, Jessel Carneiro to put in a solid shift against Goa's formidable frontline. With Gianni Zuiverloon's fitness still in doubt, it will be interesting to see if Schattorie decides to slot in new signing Vlatko Drobarov, who only joined the team last week, in the backline to bolster the defensive side of things.
Following their defeat to Jamshedpur in their last match, Goa will be eager to bounce right back and their recent results against Kerala are bound to instil a lot of confidence in the team. Ferran Corominas' absence in the Jamshedpur match was a huge blow for the Gaurs, but the Spaniard is reportedly back to full fitness and is likely to start against Kerala, which, if true, will provide a huge boost to Goa's chances in the tie, considering the Spaniard has scored a whopping seven goals in his four matches against Kerala.
Parallelly, however, Lobera will have to set up for the Kerala match without Ahmed Jahouh, who was sent off against Jamshedpur, and Hugo Boumous and Seiminlen Doungel, who are serving suspensions as well. The absentees will make the role of Edu Bedia as the offensive link a crucial one and may see Brandon Fernandes being slotted alongside Lenny Rodrigues in a two-man pivot in midfield - a role the duo performed to good effect in their opening match of the season against Chennaiyin. The likes of Jackichand Singh and Manvir Singh are expected to be drafted into the starting XI as well.
The defence has failed to keep a clean sheet since their 3-0 win over Chennaiyin but it's a familiar trend for Lobera's Goa side, which tends to set up to outscore opponents rather than keeping them at bay. But with a lot of his attacking assets missing for the Kerala match, Lobera might be tempted to focus a little more on the defensive side of the things for the upcoming tie.
Kerala Blasters FC: TP Rehenesh (GK), Mohamad Rakip, Raju Gaikwad, Jessel Carneiro, Abdul Hakku, Jeakson Singh, Sergio Cidoncha, Rahul KP, Prasanth Karuthadathkuni, Messi Bouli, Bartholomew Ogbeche
FC Goa: Mohammad Nawaz (GK), Carlos Pena, Seriton Fernandes, Mourtada Fall, Mandar Rao Dessai, Lenny Rodrigues, Edu Bedia, Jackichand Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Ferran Corominas, Manvir Singh
Did you know?
- Since the appointment of Sergio Lobero, FC Goa have faced Kerala four times and won every match.
- Current Kerala Blasters head coach Eelco Schattorie faced FC Goa twice while in charge of NorthEast last season and failed to win a match (1 loss, one draw).
- Goa have scored 13 goals against Kerala in their last four encounters.
Will Kerala secure all three points at home against FC Goa?
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Live broadcast schedule:
Hero ISL 2019-20 Match 29: Kerala Blasters FC vs FC Goa
Time: 7:30 PM onwards, December 1
Channels: Star Sports Network
Streaming: Hotstar and Jio TV