Odisha, Kerala engage in battle for pride to end their season on a high
Odisha FC and Kerala Blasters FC face off at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Sunday to conclude their respective Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 campaigns. For the home team, a win will help them leapfrog Mumbai City FC and finish in the fifth spot on the table.
After a terrible start to the season, Odisha recovered midway through to mount a commendable challenge for the top four. Josep Gombau's men's momentum, however, fizzled out towards the end of the season as they dropped out of contention for the semis spot.
Despite not making it to the top four, Odisha's brand of possession-based attacking football has been a treat for football fans, irrespective of their team loyalties. The Hero ISL newcomers will be eager to sign off their maiden campaign on a winning note, which will also guarantee a fifth-place finish for the team.
Odisha arrested their three-match losing streak with a 2-1 win over NorthEast United FC in their last match and will look to replicate a similar performance against Kerala on Sunday.
Striker Manuel Onwu has been in a rich goal scoring form since his loan move from Bengaluru, scoring four goals in three matches since his arrival and Odisha fans will look to him on Sunday yet again to provide the goal threat.
Kerala come into the match on the back of a brilliant 2-1 win over defending champions Bengaluru FC in a tense South Indian Derby. Their captain Bartholomew Ogbeche has been in fine goal scoring form this season, scoring 13 in 15 matches. Messi Bouli has supported the 35-year-old up front with some solid performances as well, with the Cameroonian accounting for seven goals in 16 matches.
Despite their solid showings in offence, however, defensive frailties in key moments in matches have cost Eelco Schattorie's men dearly this campaign. In fact, Kerala have dropped points in five of the six matches they have scored first in this campaign. Sunday's fixture being their last match of the season, Schattorie and Co. will be eager to put on a clinical display against Odisha and go out on a positive note.
Odisha FC: Francisco Dorronsoro (GK), Gaurav Bora, Shubham Sarangi, Narayan Das, Carlos Delgado, Nandhakumar Sekar, Vinit Rai, Xisco Hernandez, Marcos Tebar, Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Manuel Onwu
Kerala Blasters FC: TP Rehenesh (GK), Mohamad Rakip, Vlatko Drobarov, Jessel Carneiro, Gianni Zuiverloon, Sergio Cidoncha, Halicharan Narzary, Jeakson Singh, Sahal Abdul Samad, Bartholomew Ogbeche, Messi Bouli
Did you know?
- Odisha have scored equal number of goals (12) in each half this season.
- Kerala have won just one away match this season.
- Kerala’s win percentage in matches they have scored first this season is only 16.67.
Live Broadcast Schedule:
Hero ISL 2019-20 Match 89: Odisha FC vs Kerala Blasters FC
Date: February 23 (Sunday)
Time: 7:30 PM onwards
Channels: Star Sports Network
Streaming: Hotstar and Jio TV