Match 81 Preview: NorthEast United FC look to play spoilsport as Kerala Blasters FC eye semi-final spot
The Blasters slumped to their first loss after a 10-match winning streak in the last game, against Bengaluru FC. On the other hand, the Highlanders are still licking their wounds after a 0-5 loss against Hyderabad FC in their previous game.
Kerala Blasters FC - DDWWL
Ivan Vukomanovic’s side have won two, drawn two and lost the other in their last five matches. The narrow loss against Bengaluru FC was a wake-up call for the Blasters ahead of the last lap of matches. However, going by the recent results, they would take the field as favourites in the upcoming game.
NorthEast United FC - DLLDL
On a eight match winless streak, the Highlanders are well short of where they’ve expected to be at this point in time. In the last five matches, the Khalid Jamil-coached side have lost three and drawn two. They are currently in the 11th spot in the league table, with 10 points from 15 matches so far.
NorthEast United FC’s Mohammed Irshad is injured, while their star striker Deshorn Brown is available for selection. Meanwhile, Kerala Blasters FC players are fully fit, apart from Rahul KP, who is still training in isolation with medical staff and not training with the team.
Kerala Blasters FC
Alvaro Vasquez: Despite being on the lower side overall, Alvaro Vasquez is the joint-highest goal scorer for the Blasters this season, with four strikes, along with an assist. The team would look forward to the Spaniard to convert the opportunities upfront. With 16 shots taken on target, he is ranked third in the category, just behind Bartholomew Ogbeche and Jorge Ortiz.
Jeakson Singh: There’s absolutely no half measures regarding this pick, as the Indian has gone from strength to strength this season and was omnipresent in the thick of things for the Blasters throughout. At a healthy average of 38.75 passes per game, maintaining a passing accuracy of 86.23%, Singh will hold the cards for his side in the central midfield area in the match against NorthEast United FC.
NorthEast United FC
Marcelinho: The forward had a late entry into the Hero ISL 2021-22, but his impact was visible during the 206 minutes he’s been on the field, with six shots and four crosses to go along. Even though the Brazilian is far from his prime, with the skills he possesses, a few magical moments would be enough to change the complexion of the game. Kerala Blasters FC defenders would dare to take him lightly, given his track record.
Imran Khan: Not a footballer who attracts a lot of attention, but he surely manages to do his job silently, as his numbers suggest this season. In 12 matches played this season, Khan has assisted three times, taken 10 shots and also provided 30 crosses. However, his passing ability highlights the player who really is, having completed 342 passes this season, with close to 30 passes per season and an accuracy of 68.71%. His services would be beneficial to NorthEast United FC’s fortune in the upcoming game.
Kerala Blasters FC resistant from open play goals: The Blasters have conceded the least number of goals so far, having shipped in just 11 in their 12 matches. Most importantly, they have let in just five in the last eight matches, out of which just one was from open play. Overall, they have conceded just five goals from open play in the entire season!
Milestone Alert: Deshorn Brown needs one goal to equal Bartholomew Ogbeche’s record of 12 goals, to become the joint-highest goal scorer for the club in the history of the Hero ISL. Karanjit Singh will be making his 50th appearance in the Hero ISL, if he features for Kerala Blasters FC in the upcoming game.
NorthEast United FC concedes late: The Highlanders are prone to ship in goals late in the game. They have let in nine goals in the last 15 minutes of their games. They have also conceded 16 goals in the second half of games, worst by any team in this division.
Match timings and telecast details
Match: Kerala Blasters FC vs NorthEast United FC
Date: February 4, 2021
Venue: Tilak Maidan Stadium, Vasco
Kick-off time: 7.30 pm IST
Telecast: Star Sports Network Star Sports 1 regional channels - Tamil, Bengali, Kannada, Telugu
Online Streaming: Disney+Hotstar and JioTV.