Match 107 Preview: NorthEast United FC play Kerala Blasters FC with an eye to semis

NorthEast United FC take on Kerala Blasters FC in Match 107 of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Friday and all they need is a point from the encounter to become the third team to qualify for the semis after Mumbai City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan.  

The Highlanders are unbeaten in their last nine matches. Their form will be a confidence boost ahead of their tie against Kerala Blasters FC. They have five wins and four draws in these matches, their latest win coming against SC East Bengal earlier this week. Suhair Vadakkepeedika scored the opening goal before an own goal from Red and Gold Brigade’s Sarthak Golui secured the three points for the Highlanders.

They have scored 16 goals during this unbeaten run, as compared to 13 goals in 10 games prior to that. However, they will need to be careful while defending, especially when it comes to closing out their matches. They have conceded 15 goals in the second half as compared to 10 in the first 45 minutes. Playing against a side who are prolific in the second half (with 14 goals), the Highlanders’ backline will need to be at their best. 

“They are a good team. They have a lot of talented players and good foreigners too. They are a quality team so we have to prepare accordingly. It is going to be a difficult game and we must not take this match lightly. We understand the importance of this game, so we have to give everything,” Highlanders interim head coach Khalid Jamil said ahead of the crucial encounter. 

Kerala Blasters FC, meanwhile, have shown improvement in their attack over the course of the season but that’s not the case with their defence. They have conceded 34 goals this season, and 22 of these have come in the second half. The side were held to a 1-1 draw by Chennaiyin FC in their last match, and will hope for a victory to end their winless run of seven matches this season.

“…They have to win and they do have more pressure but for us it is an opportunity to sign off from the league on a high. We are not thinking about what they have to do, we are thinking about us. We have injuries too but we will be concentrating on their weaknesses and our strengths,” Kerala Blasters FC’s interim head coach Ishfaq Ahmed said ahead of the game. 

Idrissa Sylla had scored a late equaliser in the Highlanders’ reverse fixture against Kerala Blasters FC to earn a point back in November. However, with a lot more at stake for the Highlanders heading into this game, a win will be the only thing on their minds even though a draw will be enough for them. That said, Kerala Blasters FC will be looking to spoil their party.

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

NorthEast United FC

Goalkeepers: Gurmeet, Nikhil Deka, Sanjiban Ghosh, Subhasish Roy

Defenders: Ashutosh Mehta, Benjamin Lambot, Dylan Fox, Gurjinder Kumar, Mashoor Shereef, Nabin Rabha, Nim Dorjee, Provat Lakra, Wayne Vaz

Midfielders: Federico Gallego, Imran Khan, Khassa Camara, Lalengmawia, Lalrempuia Fanai, Pragyan Gogoi, Rochharzela

Forwards: Britto PM, Idrissa Sylla, Ninthoinganba Meetei, Deshorn Brown, Lalkhawpuimawia, Luis Machado, Suhair Vadakkepeedika

Live Broadcast Schedule:

Hero ISL 2020-21 Match 107: NorthEast United FC vs Kerala Blasters FC

Date: February 26 (Friday)

Time: 7:30 PM onwards

Channels: Star Sports Network

Streaming: Disney+ Hotstar and Jio TV

 

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