Match 65 Preview: Bengaluru hope to end winless run in clash against Kerala Blasters
Match 65 of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 will see Bengaluru FC take on Kerala Blasters FC at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Wednesday. Following their 1-1 draw against NorthEast United FC, the Blues are now winless in five matches. Kerala Blasters were also held to a 1-1 draw by SC East Bengal in their last outing and both sides will be eager for a victory.
The head-to-head statistics favour the Blues, with five wins in seven encounters between the teams. In the reverse fixture played in December, two goals separated the teams as Bengaluru secured a 4-2 victory. However, ever since their win against the Blasters, the former Hero ISL champions have won only one game. They have lost four of their last five games and Kibu Vicuna’s side will be more confident heading into the clash.
"Bengaluru are a good team with good players. The circumstances are different but we are preparing for every game in the same manner, to play a good game and try to win and improve our defence and attack. They have good foreigners and Indian players," Vicuna said ahead of their game against Bengaluru.
Currently near the bottom of the league table, Kerala Blasters have shown an improvement in the attacking third with six goals scored in their last three matches. The form of their leading goal-scorer Jordan Murray, who has netted six times this season, has boosted the confidence of their attack. His strike partner Gary Hooper has scored just two goals for his team so far but seems to be finding his rhythm in the last few games. However, their biggest concerns lie in defence.
SC East Bengal defender Scott Neville’s injury time equaliser in Kerala’s last match was the 12th goal conceded by the Blasters in the second half of matches this season. They have already conceded 20 goals in Hero ISL 2020-21 and a huge concern for the coaching staff will be their inability to close out matches. They have lost 10 points from winning positions and will need to stay switched on against a Bengaluru FC side that’s capable of beating any team on their day.
The Blues, meanwhile, were underwhelming yet again in their previous encounter against NorthEast United. They conceded the opening goal in the first half itself and would have lost the match if not for a goalkeeping lapse by Gurmeet. Bengaluru have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last eight matches and their leaky defence will need to be wary of the pacey wingers that Kerala Blasters possess.
“I don't want the players to be relaxed because we have beaten them once this season. Kerala Blasters are a motivated bunch and are high on confidence. It won't be easy, that's for sure. We're not used to a bad patch at Bengaluru FC. It's not easy, but we have to be positive and work the way we do. We're still fighting for it. We have nine games in hand, and we're not going to give up,” Bengaluru’s interim head coach Naushad Moosa said ahead of the game.
The Blues find themselves in unchartered territory for the first time since their entry into the Hero ISL. Having made it to the semis in the last three seasons, the benchmark set for the team is very high. However, they will need to bring back the commanding performances that once made them a feared outfit in the league or they might be punished by a Kerala side seeking to make amends for their loss earlier in the season.
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
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Lalthuammawia Ralte, Lara Sharma, Sharon
Defenders: Juanan, Rahul Bheke, Francisco Gonzalez, Ajith Kumar, Joe Zoherliana, Biswa Darjee, Namgyal Bhutia, Parag Srivas, Pratik Chaudhari, Wungngayam Muirang
Midfielders: Dimas Delgado, Erik Paartalu, Suresh Wangjam, Thoi Singh, Ajay Chhetri, Emanuel Lalchhanchhuaha, Amay Morajkar, Harmanjot Khabra, Cleiton Silva
Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Kristian Opseth, Ashique Kuruniyan, Udanta Singh, Edmund Lalrindika, Leon Augustin, Semboi Haokip, Naorem Singh
Live Broadcast Schedule:
Hero ISL 2020-21 Match 65: Kerala Blasters FC vs Bengaluru FC
Date: January 20 (Wednesday)
Time: 7:30 PM onwards
Channels: Star Sports Network
Streaming: Disney+ Hotstar and Jio TV