Kerala look to bounce back against confident Odisha
Kerala Blasters FC welcome Odisha FC to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Friday. Eelco Schattorie’s side have been far from their best in the last two matches, losing at home to Mumbai City FC before being beaten by Hyderabad FC away within the space of 10 days. Josep Gombau’s Odisha meanwhile, have been quite the opposite, slowly finding their feet with a comprehensive win against the Islanders in their last match after two losses at the start off their campaign.
The contrasting forms leading up to the fixture make for a tasty affair, with the encounter being the first between the two sides in Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) history.
The season began on a good note for the Kochi-based club as they came from behind to beat two-time champions, ATK. Bartholomew Ogbeche was the star of the show, quickly opening his scoring account for the Blasters and leading them to victory.
However, Kerala have endured a change in fortunes ever since with multiple players out injured or not operating at their full fitness. The injury to Mario Arques further compounded their problems and has had a direct effect on the club’s form.
In the last two fixtures, the Blasters have lacked creativity and guile in the final-third of the pitch, with even Sahal Abdul Samad struggling to make a lasting impact. Centre-back Gianni Zuiverloon had to be replaced early in the first half last time around, and his fitness too, will be a major concern for Schattorie given the stature of in-form Odisha forward, Aridane Santana.
Mouhamadou Gning was guilty of gifting Hyderabad a penalty that sparked their comeback in the second half and needless to say, the Senegalese midfielder will need to curtail such lapses against the likes of Xisco Hernandez and Jerry Mawihmingthanga. Up top, Schattorie will be confident in Ogbeche and co. getting the better of an often-uncertain Odisha defence.
Credit must be given to head coach Josep Gombau for sticking with his tactics and the youngsters despite the disappointing start to Odisha’s season. The club lost both their opening fixtures, conceding late goals and demonstrated a lapse in concentration, symptomatic of a young and developing team. However, the Spaniard kept faith in his players and continued to ask the same things from his group.
Marcos Tebar and co. were electrifying to say the least against the Islanders, scoring three goals in just the first half. Jerry and Santana were especially magnificent with the pair striking up a good understanding, which is only likely to get better as the season progresses.
They will also be strengthened by the return of Carlos Delgado, who missed the Mumbai fixture due to suspension. He will be back to lead their defence and the Spaniard’s experience at the back will be instrumental for Gombau’s charges against the attacking talents of Kerala.
Kerala Blasters FC: TP Rehenesh (GK), Mohamad Rakip, Jairo Rodrigues, Raju Gaikwad, Mouhamadou Gning, Jessel Carneiro, Halicharan Narzary, Sergio Cidoncha, Jeakson Singh, Sahal Abdul Samad, Bartholomew Ogbeche
Odisha FC: Francisco Dorronsoro (GK), Narayan Das, Shubham Sarangi, Rana Gharami, Carlos Delgado, Vinit Rai, Marcos Tebar, Xisco Hernandez, Diawandou Diagne, Aridane Santana, Jerry Mawihmingthanga
Did you know?
- Only three teams have not kept a clean sheet in Hero ISL 2019-20 yet. Kerala and Odisha are two of those three.
- Jerry has assisted 3 goals so far and all three of these have been to Aridane.
- All of Kerala’s three goals this season have come in the first-half.
Which striker will have the biggest impact on the match?
- Bartholomew Ogbeche
- Aridane Santana
Leave your choice in the comments below:
Live broadcast schedule:
Hero ISL 2019-20 Match 18: Kerala Blasters FC vs Odisha FC
Time: 7:30 PM onwards, November 8th
Channels: Star Sports Network
Streaming: Hotstar and Jio TV