Match 68 Preview: Kerala Blasters aim to continue climb-up in standings with win over FC Goa

Kerala Blasters FC will be looking to continue their climb up the 2020-21 Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) standings with a win over FC Goa at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Saturday. The Blasters emerged triumphant in dramatic fashion in their last outing against Bengaluru but will be wary about their 3-1 loss to the Gaurs earlier in the campaign.

Goa, in fact, enjoy a superior head-to-head against Kerala. The Gaurs have won nine, lost three and drawn one of their 13 encounters against the Blasters. They will back themselves to do the double over Kibu Vicuna’s men as they head into the encounter with a five-match unbeaten run that’s seen them claim three victories.

A resilient outfit that loves to play a flamboyant style of football, Juan Ferrando’s men have won 10 points after conceding the first goal – the most by a team in Hero ISL 2020-21. Primarily a second half team if ever there was one this season, Goa have scored 12 of their 17 goals after the restart and seven of those strikes have come in the final 15 minutes, which indicates their propensity to finish matches strongly. They have also netted 13 time from open play – the most by a team in the ongoing campaign.

The Gaurs have plenty of talented individuals like Igor Angulo, Jorge Ortiz Mendoza and Ishan Pandita to score the goals but it’s their defence that needs to be more solid. Goa have conceded 12 goals this season and will need to remain compact at the back against a Kerala attack that’s starting to get more confident with each passing game.

“It will be a very difficult game. They have been trying to play good football. They have different plans and are making the most of free spaces. They have a good squad. It will be a good game,” FC Goa head coach Ferrando said ahead of the game.

Meanwhile, Kerala will head into the match knowing that they can’t afford more slip-ups if they want to finish the league stage in the top four. The Blasters are unbeaten in their last three games, winning two of them including the last match in a dramatic manner deep into injury time.

Vicuna will hope that the manner of the win will instill his players with belief and confidence going into the clash against FC Goa. A side that isn’t reliant on any particular individual to do all the scoring, Kerala have nine different goal-scorers in their team this season. However, their biggest strength up front will be Jordan Murray, who leads their goal-scoring chart with six strikes so far. He, along with the constantly improving Gary Hooper, will need to be marked tightly by Goa’s defence.

As far as the Blasters’ backline is concerned, they will be expecting to be under the pump against Goa’s free-flowing attack and must be on top of their game to thwart the Gaurs. Kerala have conceded more goals (21) than any team this season and need to defend from the front if they want to keep Goa’s talented attackers at bay.    

“Tomorrow is a difficult game versus a good team that plays good football,” Blasters head coach Vicuna said ahead of the game.

“We are happy that we are close [to the top four] after the last game but we are focusing on the next game only.”

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

FC Goa

Goalkeepers: Mohammad Nawaz, Naveen Kumar, Shubham Dhas, Antonio D’Silva

Defenders: Sarineo Fernandes, Aiban Dohling, Ivan Gonzalez, James Donachie, Leander D’Cunha, Mohamed Ali, Sanson Pereira, Saviour Gama, Seriton Fernandes, Adil Khan

Midfielders: Alberto Noguera, Alexander Jesuraj, Brandon Fernandes, Edu Bedia, Flan Gomes, Jorge Mendoza, Lenny Rodrigues, Nestor Dias, Phrangki Buam, Princeton Rebello, Redeem Tlang, Seiminlen Doungel

Forwards: Aaren D’Silva, Devendra Murgaokar, Igor Angulo, Ishan Pandita, Makan Chothe

Live Broadcast Schedule:

Hero ISL 2020-21 Match 68: Kerala Blasters FC vs FC Goa

Date: January 23 (Saturday)

Time: 7:30 PM onwards

Channels: Star Sports Network

Streaming: Disney+ Hotstar and Jio TV

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