Kerala look to end season on a high with home win over NorthEast
Kerala Blasters FC will roll out the red carpet for NorthEast United FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Friday in what will be their final outing of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19 campaign.
It has been a season to forget for Kerala, who are currently ninth in the table with just 14 points from 17 outings. Poised to play their final match of the campaign in front of the home crowd, Kerala will be eager to register all three points and make sure the season ends on a happy note for the fans.
With a victory on their minds, Kerala head coach Nelo Vingada will be expected to field a strong XI on Friday. Matej Poplatnik and Slavisa Stojanovic will spearhead the Yellow Brigade’s attack while the Indian duo of Sandesh Jhingan and Anas Edathodika will headline the side’s defensive endeavours.
Here’s a look at Kerala’s current season in numbers:
A stark contrast to Kerala, it has been a good season for the Highlanders who finally ended their four-season-long wait and qualified for the semi-finals for the first time in the club’s history.
A big reason behind their success has been head coach Eelco Schattorie’s pragmatic approach this season and the Dutchman will be well aware of the importance of a win on Friday to go into the next stage with an added bit of confidence under their belt.
Schattorie will, however, be tempted to use his resources sensibly and rest a few key players in the dead rubber. The fixture does provide him with the perfect opportunity to try out new signing Janeiler Rivas Palacios. The Colombian defender was recently roped in to replace the injured Mislav Komorski and Schattorie will be eager to blood him into the squad before the semis begin.
With defender Mato Grgic and defensive midfielder Jose Leudo serving a one-match suspension due to the accumulation of yellow cards, Rivas' involvement becomes all the more likely. Redeem Tlang, Reagan Singh and Robert Lalthlamuana are also just one card away from a suspension and Schattorie might opt not to risk playing them on Friday. Star striker Bartholomew Ogbeche may also be rested with the semi-finals in mind.
Here are the stats from NorthEast’s season so far:
NorthEast United FC: Pawan Kumar (GK), Shouvik Ghosh, Janeiler Rivas, Gurwinder Singh, Keegan Pereira, Lalrempuia Fanai, Rowllin Borges, Federico Gallego (C), Panagiotis Triadis, Lalthathanga Khawlhring, Juan Mascia
Kerala Blasters FC: Dheeraj Singh (GK), Mohamad Rakip, Anas Edathodika, Sandesh Jhingan (C), Lalruatthara, Cyril Kali, Sahal Abdul Samad, Courage Pekuson, Slavisa Stojanovic, Seiminlen Doungel, Matej Poplatnik
DID YOU KNOW?
- Kerala have won just 1 match at home this season.
- NorthEast have won 5 out of 8 matches away from home this season.
- NorthEast have scored just 1 goal on counter attacks this season (lowest in the league).
Which team will come out on top?
- Kerala Blasters FC
- NorthEast United FC
Have your say in the comments section below.
Catch the match live on the Star Sports Network, Hotstar and Jio TV at 7.30 PM.