Match 50 Preview: Odisha FC take on Kerala Blasters in search of elusive first win

Winless eight matches into Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21, Odisha FC will hope to turn their fortunes around when they face Kerala Blasters FC at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Thursday. Stuart Baxter’s side lost 3-1 to SC East Bengal in their last fixture, while Kerala Blasters FC were beaten 2-0 by Mumbai City FC in their previous encounter.

Odisha have not been at their best so far particularly up front. The Bhubaneswar-based team have scored just two goals from open play this season out of their total of six. And their best player has been Brazilian forward Diego Mauricio who has scored three goals. Mauricio’s strike partner Manuel Onwu,, however, is yet to find the back of the net this season.

Hopefully, Onwu will take confidence from the fact that he scored a hat-trick in a thrilling 4-4 draw against the same opposition last season. He will look to return to form against a side who have kept just two clean sheets this season. Kerala have conceded eight goals in the second half of games and Odisha will hope to take advantage of their defensive problems.

At the other end of the pitch a grimmer picture awaits us: Odisha is yet to keep a clean sheet, having conceded 14 goals in all. The experience of Steven Taylor and Jacob Tratt has not helped much so far, and Shubham Sarangi is another name to have disappointed.  

Speaking to the media ahead of their game, head coach Baxter said, “Every opponent that we have is potentially an opponent we can get a good result against. A lot of their games have been close. It's going to be a tight and competitive game. I want us to go into this game knowing that we can win this time.”

Odisha have won just once in their last 13 matches going back to last season. Up against another side not at the top of their game, Odisha will hope to win and end their status as the only team yet to win this season.

Meanwhile, Kerala have shown signs of improvement after an underwhelming start to their campaign. After a win over Hyderabad FC, Kibu Vicuna’s side looked threatening in attack but could not breach the Mumbai City FC defence. Carrying the burden of their creativity is their Argentine midfielder Facundo Pereyra, who has created 19 chances this season. Kerala have managed just 87 shots and their shot accuracy of 22.98% is not flattering considering that the side have 50% average ball possession this season.

Sharing his thoughts ahead of the game, head coach Vicuna said, “Every game is a new challenge. Odisha are no different from others. While we are looking for the three points against Odisha, it needs to be said that they have been performing well. They played well against East Bengal too. We need to control the game and make the most of our chances. But we need to be defensively better as well. Football is a balance between attack, defence and transition. We have to improve in every aspect.”

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, Arjun Jayaraj, Ayush Adhikari, Jeakson Singh, Prasanth Karuthadathkuni, Ritwik Das, Rohit Kumar, Juande

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

Odisha FC

Goalkeepers: Arshdeep Singh, Kamaljit Singh, Ravi Kumar, Ankit Bhuyan

Defenders: Steven Taylor, Saurabh Meher, Gaurav Bora, Kamalpreet Singh, Mohd Sajid Dhot, George D’Souza, Shubham Sarangi, Jacob, Hendry Antonay

Midfielders: Baoringdao Bodo, Cole Alexander, Isak Vanlalruatfela, Jerry Mawihmingthanga, S Lalhrezuala, Nandhakumar Sekar, Paul Ramfangzauva, Samuel Lalmuanpuia, Vinit Rai, Thoiba Singh

Forwards: Diego Mauricio, Manuel Onwu, Daniel Lalhlimpuia, Laishram Singh, Marcelo Pereira

Live Broadcast Schedule:

Hero ISL 2020-21 Match 50: Kerala Blasters FC vs Odisha FC

Date: January 7 (Thursday)

Time: 7:30 PM onwards

Channels: Star Sports Network

Streaming: Disney+ Hotstar and Jio TV

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