Match 96 Preview: With top four spot at stake, Hyderabad seek crucial win over Kerala

Match 96 of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 will see Hyderabad FC take on Kerala Blasters FC at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Tuesday. Aridane Santana’s late goal earned a point for Hyderabad against SC East Bengal in their last match, while the Blasters were also held to a draw against Odisha FC in their previous encounter.

Hero ISL 2020-21: Click here to predict where your favourite team will finish this season.

Manuel Marquez’s side are in the reckoning for a top four spot and will want three points against the Blasters before they take on ATK Mohun Bagan. The Telangana-based club are unbeaten in their last nine matches, but six of those games have ended in draws. These draws can be put down to their inability to convert chances.

Hyderabad’s last two matches ended as 0-0 (against NorthEast United FC) and 1-1 draws. They collectively attempted 16 shots in both matches, but only six of them were on target and Marquez will know that his players need to do better against Kerala’s leaky defence, which has conceded 29 goals this season. Scoring goals will also help improve Hyderabad’s goal difference, which could play a part in determining the remaining two semi-final spots.

“It’s a very important match. We are in the last three games. We know that at this moment NorthEast United, FC Goa and Hyderabad still have a chance to qualify. We have to win the next game against Kerala if we want to make it to the top four. We are unbeaten in nine games but six of them have been draws. We have to try to win the next match because we have had a fantastic season,” said Hyderabad’s head coach Marquez.

Meanwhile, the Blasters’ defence has let them down this season. After their last match against Odisha, Kerala have now dropped points from winning positions for a third match in a row. They scored early against both ATK Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City, but conceded late goals to lose those games. In their match against Odisha, Kerala scored twice in the second half to take the lead but only managed to secure a point.

Kerala should have defended better against Odisha and both the goals that they conceded against them could have been avoided. They’ve struggled at the back all campaign having conceded the most penalties (7) and also allowed a massive 82 shots on target.

“We are focusing on the next three games, especially the game against Hyderabad. After the last match, we have analysed the game. We are correcting the things that we have to correct. We are only focusing on the remaining three games and trying to get the nine points. We are playing for the fans. We want to finish in the best possible place on the league table. We are going to fight every game for the three points,” Kerala’s head coach Kibu Vicuna said ahead of the match.

The Blasters will have fond memories of their 2-0 victory over Hyderabad in the reverse fixture, which was also the first of their three wins this season. However, Marquez’s side have gone on to challenge for a top four spot since that loss, while Kerala were unable to capitalize and kick on after that win.

Hyderabad FC

Goalkeepers: Lalbiakhlua Jongte, Laxmikant Kattimani, Manas Dubey, Sankar Roy

Defenders: Akash Mishra, Asish Rai, Chinglensana Singh, Dimple Bhagat, Kynsailang Khongsit, Nikhil Prabhu, Odei Onaindia, Sahil Panwar

Midfielders: Abhishek Halder, Sahil Tavora, Halicharan Narzary, Hitesh Sharma, Joao Victor, Laldanmawia Ralte, Lluis Sastre, Mark Zothanpuia, Mohammed Yasir, Nikhil Poojary, Souvik Chakrabarti, Sweden Fernandes, Roland Alberg

Forwards: Aridane Santana, Fran Sandaza, Ishan Dey, Joel Chianese, Lalawmpuia, Liston Colaco, Rohit Danu

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

Live Broadcast Schedule:

Hero ISL 2020-21 Match 96: Hyderabad FC vs Kerala Blasters FC

Date: February 16 (Tuesday)

Time: 7:30 PM onwards

Channels: Star Sports Network

Streaming: Disney+ Hotstar and Jio TV

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