Kerala Blasters FC will play hosts to East Bengal FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 on April 3, Wednesday, at 7:30 pm IST.

With 30 points from 19 matches, currently, there are five teams, namely: Hyderabad FC, East Bengal FC, NorthEast United FC, Jamshedpur FC, and Bengaluru FC, who cannot match the tally of the Yellow Army. Only Chennaiyin FC and Punjab FC can catch up with Ivan Vukomanovic & Co. Punjab FC will square off against Odisha FC tonight, and a failure to win against the Juggernauts will mean that they will become the sixth team who could not equal or surpass the points garnered by Kerala Blasters FC. This will automatically result in the Kochi-based team qualifying to the playoffs.

Hence, there is all probability that Kerala Blasters FC would have a foot into the next round of the competition by the time of their match against the Red & Gold Brigade.

East Bengal FC, contrastingly, has to fight tooth and nail to make it to the top-six. They are in the penultimate spot in the standings presently, having notched 18 points from 19 games. With three matches remaining, they can get to a maximum of 27 points with a prospective victory in all of their remaining matches.

What’s at stake?

Kerala Blasters FC

There is no denying that the Kerala Blasters FC campaign has gone off track after the mid-season break. However, they can be eyeing their first league double over East Bengal FC with a potential victory in this match.

Their backline needs some strengthening in the final month of this ISL season, with the team having conceded at least a goal in each of their last seven matches in the competition.

The last and only time they went with more games without a clean sheet was a stretch of eight matches from November 2015-October 2016. Kerala Blasters FC lost a 4-3 thriller to the Mohun Bagan Super Giant in the home turf of the former in their last game here.

A loss here will see them lose consecutive matches at home for the first time since October 2022.

They have a tendency to begin second halves of matches on a strong note, having scored seven goals in the first 15 minutes of the second half so far in ISL 2023-24, which is the highest amongst all teams. Needless to say, East Bengal FC has to be wary of not letting Kerala Blasters FC run away with the game in this phase of the match.

East Bengal FC

East Bengal FC comes into this game on the back of three consecutive losses in the ISL. The last time they went on a longer such run was of four matches in January 2023.

They are averaging 10.1 headed clearances per game in ISL 2023-24, which is the second-highest aggregate by any side in the season, i.e. Punjab FC (11.7). Accordingly, the Kerala Blasters FC unit knows that they cannot use their aerial prowess to attack the East Bengal FC box.

These two teams last locked horn in November 2023, with the Yellow Army edging past the Kolkata-based side by 2-1, with a goal by Cleiton Silva in the added time of the second half by Cleiton Silva falling short to even secure them a point.

Dimitrios Diamantakos was on the sheet for the Yellow Army in that match, and he will be another threat for East Bengal FC this time around, with the Greek striker having already found the back of the net 13 times so far in this campaign.

Key Players to Watch Out

Dimitrios Diamantakos (Kerala Blasters FC)

The striker has recorded 16 goal contributions in as many matches, with the help of 13 goals and three assists. He has recorded 65 touches in the box of the opposition.

Diamantakos has completed 10 successful dribbles, making 19 key passes, creating 22 goal-scoring opportunities, notching a 71.32% shot accuracy.

With an average of 18 passes per game, has recorded 72% accuracy, having made 48 recoveries, and won 53 duels. His goal conversion rate of 40.62% shows tremendous efficiency on his front, and that will come out to be useful against the East Bengal FC backline.

Cleiton Silva (East Bengal FC)

Cleiton Silva has scored seven goals and assisted twice in 18 appearances this season. Silva has delivered 28 key passes, creating 30 goal-scoring chances, and completing 15 successful dribbles.

He has made 30 passes on an average per match at 77% accuracy. Silva has won 82 duels and made 65 recoveries, leading East Bengal FC's attacking lineup with his versatility and sheer quality.

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Played – 7

Kerala Blasters FC – 3

East Bengal FC – 1

Draws – 3

Trivia: East Bengal FC’s Naorem Mahesh Singh has won 2.5 fouls per game in the current ISL season, the highest such aggregate by any Indian player in the competition in this period.

Team Talk

“As a coach, you always wish to not have anyone in your squad face any injuries. We want everyone to be available in the final leg of the season and want to ensure that they refresh and recover in the best possible way,” Kerala Blasters FC Head Coach Ivan Vukomanovic said ahead of the game.

“Our team has a good method and plan and we will be following that in this match. As footballers, everyone is happy to play in front of the fans in Kochi,” East Bengal FC Assistant Coach Bino George said in the pre-match press conference.

ISL Fantasy

Cleiton Silva (6.3cr)

Has garnered 63 ISL fantasy points this season

Dimitrios Diamantakos (8.4cr)

Has bagged 88 ISL fantasy points in 2023-24

Milos Drincic (3.6cr)

Has been picked by 18% of the ISL fantasy users

If not registered already, fans can participate in the overall league or club-based leagues based on their preferences. Create private leagues, inviting friends and fellow football aficionados to compete. Prizes include a Sony PlayStation ®️ ️5 gaming console, EA Sports FC 24, signed club merchandise, and a Gift Card worth INR 20,000, which will be awarded to 100 winners at the end of the season. Sign up at:

Where to Watch

Fans across the country can catch the action in English, Hindi, Bengali, and Malayalam. Fans can watch the action on linear channels like Sports18 Khel (Hindi), Sports18 1 HD (English), Sports18 3 SD (English, Hindi, Malayalam and Bengali), VH1 SD & HD (English), Surya Movies (Malayalam), News 18 Kerala (Malayalam – select matches) & DD Bangla (Bengali). Fans can also catch the action streaming Live for free on JioCinema, the home of Indian football. In addition to this, as part of FSDL’s partnership with OneFootball, ISL live streams and highlights of all matches of the upcoming 2023-24 season will be delivered across more than 190 countries.