League leaders Hyderabad FC will face a stern challenge against a strong Kerala Blasters FC side, when their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 match kicks-off at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim, Goa on Wednesday evening.

Hyderabad FC are riding high after a dominant 3-1 win over FC Goa in the previous game and find themselves in an ideal position to go for the kill in the upcoming game and secure a semi-final spot.

On the other hand, Kerala Blasters FC dropped points in a high-voltage match against ATK Mohun Bagan after conceding a late goal, and they are in desperate need of three points to keep their semi-final big very much in their own hands.

Form Guide

Hyderabad FC - WWLWW

Manuel Marquez’s men have won four and lost once in their last five matches this season. The only loss came against ATK Mohun Bagan, where the match ended 2-1 in the Mariners’ favour. Apart from that, they have been flawless recently.

Kerala Blasters FC - LWLWD

The Blasters have won twice, lost twice and drawn the remaining of their last five matches this season. Following a great run, the Kerala-based side have lost track a bit, but are well in contention for the semi-finals and are now placed at the fourth spot in the league table.

Head To Head

In the five matches played between these two teams, Hyderabad FC have won twice, while Kerala Blasters FC have emerged victorious on three occasions. Alvaro Vazquez’s goal was the decider in their last meeting, earlier this season, as the Blasters walked away with three points.

Team News

Kerala Blasters FC’s Nishu Kumar is not fit enough to play the upcoming match. Rahul KP is a doubt, and the medical staff is working to get him match-ready. Meanwhile, Ruivah Hormipam has returned to training.

Key Players

Hyderabad FC

Bartholomew Ogbeche: Arguably the best player in the Hero ISL 2021-22 so far. Ogbeche has contributed to 17 goals in 16 matches played this season, having netted 16 and provided an assist. Out of the 55 shots taken by him, 25 have been on target - which is also the most by any player this season. The striker has been phenomenal in front of the goal and he will be eager to help Hyderabad FC qualify for their first ever top-four finish.

Chinglensana Singh: Hyderabad FC have conceded just 18 goals this season (joint second by any team), and the Chinglensana is one of the main reasons behind it. Partnering Juanan at the heart of the defence, the duo has been hard to break. In the 15 matches played, the footballer has made 32 tackles, 18 interceptions, 54 clearances and 20 blocks. The Indian defender has been very clinical too, having made 585 passes this season, at a rate of nearly 40 per game, maintaining an accuracy of 80.68%.

Kerala Blasters FC

Alvaro Vazquez: The Uruguayan footballer is an automatic choice, with loads of stats to back him up. The Spanish footballer has scored five goals this season so far, which is the highest by any Blasters player. Vazquez is always on the hunt, as is evident from the 45 shots he’s taken in the season so far (the most by a player from the contingent), and also provided one assist. He also scored the winner against Hyderabad FC earlier this season.

Lalthathanga Khawlhring: Puitea, as he is popularly known, has been a livewire in the midfield. Not only has he combined well with players like Jeaskon Singh, Adrian Luna and Abdul Sahal Samad, but has been individually brilliant as well. The playmaker has already assisted thrice this season. In the defensive area, the footballer has made 77 tackles (highest by a Blasters player), 14 interceptions, seven clearances and 14 blocks.

Key Stats

Kerala Blasters FC should be wary of set-pieces:The Blasters have conceded 52.94% of their goals from set-pieces, which is the highest percentage for any team in the Hero ISL. On the other hand, Hyderabad FC is the only team to concede at least 15 goals each from set-pieces and open play.

Milestone alert: Bartholomew Ogbeche needs to score just two goals to equal Ferran Corominas' record of most goals scored by a player in a single Hero ISL season. The former FC Goa forward had scored 18 goals in the 2017-18 season, which is the current record.

Kerala Blasters FC would not want to concede first: Hyderabad FC have dropped the least points - 2, from winning position, which proves they can hold on to a lead better than any side. Manuel Marquez’s boys have scored the first goal of a match on eight occasions and have won seven times.

Match Timings and Telecast Details

Match: Hyderabad FC vs Kerala Blasters FC

Date: February 23, 2022

Venue: Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

Kick-off time: 7.30 pm IST

Telecast: Star Sports Network

Online Streaming: Disney+Hotstar and JioTV.