Match 102 Preview: Kerala Blasters FC gear up for do-or-die encounter against fearless Chennaiyin FC
Kerala Blasters FC find themselves with all to do to make the semi-finals as nothing less than a win against Chennaiyin FC in their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 match at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco, Goa on Saturday, will help their cause.
The Blasters were handed a 1-2 loss by Hyderabad FC in their previous game, which dented their semi-final bid. The equation now is simple for them - three wins in the remaining three matches will be enough for them to go through. However, in the fiercely contested Hero ISL, that will be easier said than done.
Meanwhile, Chennaiyin FC’s motivation would be to break the six-match winless streak, with their last victory coming against NorthEast United FC, more than a month ago.
Kerala Blasters FC - WLWDL
The Ivan Vukomanovic-led side has won two, lost two and drawn once in their last five matches this season. They are currently placed in the fifth spot, with 27 points from 17 games, which includes seven wins and six draws.
Chennaiyin FC - DLLDL
The former champions have lost three and drawn two of their last five matches this season. Chennaiyin FC are out of contention for a top-four finish and will have only pride to play for in their remaining matches.
Head To Head
In the 17 matches played between these two teams, Kerala Blasters FC have won four times. Meanwhile, Chennaiyin FC have been victorious on six occasions and the remaining seven matches have been draws.
Nishu Kumar and Jeakson Singh are recovering from their injuries, but a decision regarding their availability will be taken later.
Kerala Blasters FC
Adrian Luna: Even though he was not too impactful in their last match against Hyderabad FC, Adrian Luna cannot be taken lightly in any circumstances. With goals and six assists, he is the player with most goal contributions for the Blasters this season. The midfielder has been clinical at the heart of the defence, having made 689 passes in 17 matches, at a rate of over 40 per game. Apart from which, he has made 81 tackles, 26 interceptions, four clearances and 25 blocks.
Prabhsukhan Singh Gill: The Kerala Blasters FC goalkeeper has been one of the best among his peers this season and produced a fine performance against Hyderabad FC despite his team losing the match. With fine margins likely to decide these matches at the end of the season, Kerala Blasters FC would need their goalkeeper to be at their very best.
Vladimir Koman: The consistent performer for Chennaiyin FC throughout the season, Koman has been the midfield general for the side. To start with, he has been involved in four goals (scored three and assisted once). In 17 matches, the Hungarian has made 767 passes, at a rate of over 51 per game. The footballer has been effective in his defensive duties as well, with 45 tackles, 17 interceptions, eight clearances and 14 blocks.
Rahim Ali: The 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup star has not been in his best shape this season, but came up with a goal and an assist in their match against Odisha FC. Overall, he has netted twice and assisted an equal number of times in the Hero ISL 2021-22. Chennaiyin FC have nothing to lose and their players would be taking the pitch without any pressure, Ali would be eager to pounce on the opportunity and make a mark to end the season on a high.
Kerala Blasters FC’s loophole: The last four goals shipped by the Blasters have all come from crosses. Despite not conceding many shots in the same time frame, they have somehow let in goals from crosses. The absence of players like Ruivah Hormipam and Nishu Kumar is one of the reasons for their defensive lapses.
Chennaiyin FC on the brink of new records: The two-time champions’ next win will be their 50th in the history of the Hero ISL and will become only the third team, after FC Goa and Mumbai City FC to achieve the feat. The next goal will be their 200th in the Hero ISL, only FC Goa have reached the landmark till now.
Venue Record: Kerala Blasters FC have played 15 matches at the Tilak Maidan, and have lost just three! They have won seven of those matches, while sharing the spoils in the remaining five occasions. On the other hand, Chennaiyin FC have won just twice out of the 12 matches they played at the venue.
Match timings and telecast details
Match: Kerala Blasters FC vs Chennaiyin FC
Date: February 26, 2022
Venue: Tilak Maidan Stadium, Vasco
Kick-off time: 7.30 pm IST
Telecast: Star Sports Network
Online Streaming: Disney+Hotstar and JioTV.