Match 102 Preview: Southern rivals Kerala Blasters and Chennaiyin battle for pride

Match 102 of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 will witness Kerala Blasters FC taking on Chennaiyin FC at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Sunday. Both southern rivals are no longer in the semi-final running but will be playing for pride and will want to end what’s been a disappointing campaign on a high.

Hero ISL 2020-21: Click here to predict where your favourite team will finish this season.

The two teams have squared off 15 times in the Hero ISL in the past with Chennaiyin enjoying the superior record. The Marina Machans have won six, drawn six and lost three of the encounters against the Blasters. The previous outing between the teams this campaign ended in a goalless draw and you can rest assured that players from both camps will want to avoid a repeat of that.

Neither side will be carrying any momentum into the clash and Kerala will be playing their first match since parting ways with their former head coach Kibu Vicuna. The Blasters will go into the match on the back of a six-match winless but will be hoping to change that under interim head coach Ishfaq Ahmed. Weak at the back all campaign, Kerala along with Odisha FC have conceded 33 goals – the most in the league this season.

They are also susceptible from set-pieces having conceded 13 times from such situations. Even though they have scored the first goal and been in a good position numerous times in their games this season, the Blasters have thrown away their advantages, particularly, in the second halves where they’ve let in 22 goals. They need to be more solid at the back against a goal-shy Chennaiyin team and can get a result if their strikers Gary Hooper and Jordan Murray can find the net like they have so many times this season.

“We all know that it is a difficult situation and there is no time to change many things. But yes, there will be a few things that we want to improve, and we are working on that. The most important thing is that the boys are motivated even though we know that we have nothing to play for,” Kerala Blasters interim head coach Ahmed said ahead of the game.

Chennaiyin, meanwhile, go into the contest on the back of an eight-match winless run. Sunday’s clash against Kerala will be their last match of the season and the Marina Machans will want to give their fans something to cheer about as they hope to finish on a high. Goal-scoring has been an issue for them and that’s reflected in the fact that they’ve netted just 16 times – joint lowest in the league.

The ten draws that they have been involved in is the most by any side in Hero ISL 2020-21 but Csaba Laszlo will know that his players could have claimed three points in many of those games. Lallianzuala Chhangte has come to the fore for his team in the last few outings after being quiet for most of the season. He will be their most potent weapon in attack against Kerala Blasters. However, to get a positive result, Chennaiyin’s defence needs to step up and target a clean sheet – something that they haven’t managed to do regularly in Hero ISL 2020-21.

"We want to show our fans, our club owners and everyone around us that we are still together and that we want to win this game. Hopefully, the football god will also be with us. We won the first game against Jamshedpur FC and hopefully we win our last game against Kerala Blasters. After that, we will see in which position we finish. To close the season with a victory over Kerala Blasters, I think it will somehow be sweet. The sourness [though] is there because we don't reach the top four," said Laszlo ahead of the game.

Squads:

Kerala Blasters FC

Goalkeepers: Albino Gomes, Bilal Husain Khan, Prabhsukhan Singh Gill, Muheet Khan

Defenders: Costa Nhamoinesu, Nishu Kumar, Bakary Kone, Jessel Carneiro, Sandeep Singh, Abdul Hakku, Lalruatthara

Midfielders: Sahal Abdul Samad, Vicente Gomez, Seityasen Singh, Rahul KP, Givson Singh, Lalthathanga Khawlhring, Yondrembem Denechandra Meitei, Arjun Jayaraj, Ayush Adhikari, Jeakson Singh, Prasanth Karuthadathkuni, Ritwik Das, Rohit Kumar, Juande, Muktasana Sharma

Forwards: Gary Hooper, Jordan Murray, Facundo Pereyra, Naorem Mahesh Singh, Shaiborlang Kharpan

Chennaiyin FC

Goalkeepers: Revanth BY, Vishal Kaith, Karanjit Singh, Samik Mitra

Defenders: Lalchhuanmawia Fanai, Enes Sipovic, Reagan Singh, Eli Sabia, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Remi, Balaji Ganesan, Aqib Nawab, Deepak Tangri

Midfielders: Fatkhulo Fatkhuloev, Thoi Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Memo Moura, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Abhijit Sarkar, Pandiyan Sinivasan, Germanpreet Singh, Dhanpal Ganesh, Edwin Vanspaul, Manuel Lanzarote

Forwards: Jakub Sylvestr, Aman Chetri, Rahim Ali, Esmael Goncalves

Live Broadcast Schedule:

Hero ISL 2020-21 Match 102: Kerala Blasters FC vs Chennaiyin FC

Date: February 21 (Sunday)

Time: 7:30 PM onwards

Channels: Star Sports Network

Streaming: Disney+ Hotstar and Jio TV

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