Mixed fortunes on play as Kerala Blasters FC eye redemption against Hyderabad FC

Hyderabad FC will take on Kerala Blasters FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the GMC Balayogi Athletic Stadium, in Hyderabad, on Saturday. The hosts have a chance to go four points clear at the top of the table, while the Blasters will be hoping to secure their third win on the bounce to move to the third spot in the table. 

After the 1-0 win over Jamshedpur FC in their last game, Hyderabad FC equaled FC Goa’s Hero ISL 2018-19 and Mumbai City FC’s Hero ISL 2014-15 records of five consecutive clean sheets. The defending champions have not conceded a goal since their opening day 3-3 draw against Mumbai City FC.

Hero ISL’s all-time top-scorer Bartholomew Ogbeche has scored twice in six games. However, Hyderabad FC have seen crucial contributions coming from the flanks. After six games, wingers Halicharan Narzary and Mohammad Yasir have four goals and four assists between them. 

Conveying his thoughts on the upcoming game, HFC Head Coach Manolo Marquez said, “We know that we are playing against a very good team. However, games are difficult every week. This match is a repeat of last year's final, and they (KBFC) are coming into the game after winning two consecutive wins. It will be a very difficult game for both sides.”

Kerala Blasters seem to have found their rhythm as they come into this fixture after winning two back-to-back games for the first time this season. The Blasters will be looking for redemption against the side that beat them in the 2021-22 Hero ISL final.

In the Blasters’ defence, Marko Leskovic and Ruivah Hormipam have cemented their places. Leskovic has made the most interceptions (13) in the Hero ISL this season. Operating from the midfield, Ivan Kaliuzhnyi has been the standout performer this season. The Ukrainian is the top goalscorer in the Hero ISL this season after scoring four goals in six games. 

“We are facing one of the best teams in the league,” said Blasters Head Coach Ivan Vukomanovic. “The club has been consistent with the same coach for three years. I expect nothing but a tough and physical game in which both sides want to win.”

The two finalists of last season’s Hero ISL Playoffs have faced each other six times in the league phase previously. Both teams have won three games each. The seventh encounter was in the final when Hyderabad beat Kerala Blasters on penalties.

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