Payback on the cards for Kerala against Mumbai?
Fresh off their win against ATK in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 opener, Kerala Blasters FC will look to carry their winning momentum forward when they host Mumbai City FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Thursday. The last time the two teams met, it was the Islanders who ran amok, coming out as 6-1 winners, courtesy four Modou Sougou strikes at the Mumbai Football Arena. With a fresh team and a win under their belt already, Kerala fans will hope that their team can exact some sort payback in the coming fixture.
For Mumbai, on the other hand, it will be their first match of the 2019-20 campaign and head coach Jorge Costa's charges will want to start on a positive note.
The Blasters showed immense character and passion in their win against ATK. Despite going behind as early as the 6th minute, the yellow brigade rallied and came out with a 2-1 win eventually. Captain Bartholomew Ogbeche was the star of the show as he led from the front with a brace and the ace striker will be looking to carry forth his scoring touch in the second match. There were several other positives for the Blasters in the first match, with the likes of Jairo Rodrigues, Jeakson Singh and a few others proving their worth despite a shaky start.
One concern for head coach Eelco Schattorie, however, will be the defence's indecisiveness while defending set-pieces. The frailty was exposed time and again by ATK in the season opener and they even scored their goal from a free-kick. The result of the match would have been very different if ATK could have put some of their chances away. With a seasoned dead ball specialist like Paulo Machado in the Mumbai team, that's a hole Schattorie will need to plug sooner rather than later.
The loss of Lucian Goian will definitely have taken out a bit of bite from the Mumbai backline, but with Costa's stellar reputation of preparing his players defensively better than most other head coaches in the Hero ISL roster, expect the Islanders to be an astute defensive unit. Their backline will be anchored by Mato Grgic - a player both Schattorie and Ogbeche will be very familiar with, having worked with him at NorthEast United last season. Rowllin Borges is another player who will be lining up against his former head coach, having made the same move as Grgic.
Sougou, the man who tormented Kerala last season, will be joined by former African Champions League winner Amine Chermiti up front and the addition of players like Serge Kevyn, Mohammed Larbi and Diego Carlos adds substantial dynamism to a team, which already proved their proficiency as one of the best counter-attacking sides in the league last time around. Last, but not the least, in players like Machado and goalkeeper Amrinder Singh, Mumbai possess two game changers, who can inspire the team on both ends of the pitch.
Overall with the pretext in play and the two side's make-up, another exciting encounter awaits Kochi this Thursday.
Kerala Blasters FC: Bilal Husain Khan (GK), Mohamad Rakip, Jairo Rodrigues, Gianni Zuiverloon, Mouhamadou Gning, Jessel Carneiro, Halicharan Narzary, Sergio Cidoncha, Jeakson Singh, Sahal Abdul Samad, Bartholomew Ogbeche
Mumbai City FC: Amrinder Singh (GK), Mato Grgic, Subhasish Bose, Sauvik Chakrabarti, Sarthak Golui, Rowllin Borges, Paulo Machado, Raynier Fernandes, Serge Kevyn, Amine Chermiti, Modou Sougou
DID YOU KNOW?
- Kerala have never won their second match in Hero ISL history (3 draws and 2 losses). Out of these, 2 draws were against Mumbai (2015 and 2018-19).
- Mumbai have won just once in their opening match in the Hero ISL, which came in the 2016 season.
- Sougou scored 4 goals in the last match when these two sides met. This was the only time a player scored four goals in a single match in Hero ISL history.
Can Bartholomew Ogbeche keep his scoring form going against Mumbai?
Have your say in the comments section below.
Catch the match live at 7:30 PM only on the Star Sports Network, Hotstar and Jio TV.