The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi will erupt with joy when their Head Coach Ivan Vukomanovic returns to the touchline as Kerala Blasters FC plays host to Odisha FC in the fifth matchweek of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 on Friday, October 27. Mumbai City FC halted the Blasters and their winning train in the City of Dreams earlier this month, before NorthEast United FC walked away with a competitive 1-1 draw against them last week.

For Odisha, a close 3-2 loss to FC Goa in the added time was compensated with a morale-boosting 6-1 triumph over Maziya S&RC in their AFC Cup encounter recently. Fans will keep close tabs on the Juggernauts and their Head Coach Sergio Lobera, for the Spaniard returned to India with a proven track record, decorated trophy cabinet, and a reputation to protect and grow. So far, with only one win in three games, Lobera will want better results.

What’s at stake?

Kerala Blasters FC

Maximising points bagged from home games is core to the success of any victorious team. It helps to set the tone for the campaign right in the beginning and Kerala have a fantastic opportunity to do that given that this will be their fourth match in Kochi out of their first five games of the season. Outstanding starts reflect in impressive finishes in the standings and with the whole of Manjappada behind them, Kerala surely have the chance to make hay while the sun shines.

Odisha FC

The Juggernauts will be gutted that they took away no points from Goa, but Lobera is a coach who is as practical as they come. He immediately focused on securing a bounce back fitting to his stature against Maziya S&RC and now can bag a statement result in the backyard of the Blasters. A victory in Kochi will help Odisha silence any apprehensions over the way their season has panned out thus far, instilling in them confidence and courage in taking on stronger challenges going forward.

Key Players

Danish Farooq (Kerala Blasters FC)

With goals in consecutive games, former Real Kashmir FC midfielder Danish Farooq has found his footing in the ISL, and is beaming with incredible self-belief at the moment. He is strong with both feet, tenacious defensively, creative offensively, and efficient in front of the net. The ISL prides itself in helping youngsters thrive and Farooq is showing signs that he could throw up one of the most stunning stories of the season by the end of this campaign.

Jerry Mawihmingthanga (Odisha FC)

Lobera’s hallmark over the years has been enabling youngsters to realise their potential. Jerry Mawihmingthanga, 26, is into his eighth season in the ISL now but never before he came across as sharp and potent in the 18-yard box. “The coach is a boost for the team, especially for me and for other players. When the coach came in, he gave us confidence that I had a free role to do what I wanted in attack,” he said in an interaction this month. With goals in the first two fixtures, it looks like Jerry is repaying the trust Lobera laid on him.

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Played – 20

Kerala Blasters FC – 7

Odisha FC – 6

Draws – 7

Trivia: Odisha FC striker Diego Mauricio has scored five goals in five matches against Kerala Blasters FC in the ISL.

Team Talk

“Every game for us is difficult, hard; it’s to fight for points and victories. So, since we arrived here more than two years ago, there has not been a single game where we didn’t have to fight for the points. I think tomorrow it will be the same. It will be nothing different. In this kind of stadium, environment, and atmosphere, the players enjoy and they give it their all. I hope to see a good game tomorrow,” Kerala’s head coach Ivan Vukomanovic said in the pre-match press conference.

“We are excited. It's always a big challenge to play against Kerala, always. They have a very good team. We are going to play in the best atmosphere that you can play in the ISL, because I love to play in this stadium, in this environment, atmosphere, in terms of people. We need to be ready for tomorrow’s game. It will be a difficult game but we are ready for the challenge. We are preparing with excitement for the challenge,” Odisha FC tactician Sergio Lobera touched upon the upcoming fixture.

Where to Watch

Viacom18 is the new home of Indian football and the match between Kerala Blasters FC and Odisha FC will kick off at 8 PM on October 27, 2023. 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 SD & HD (English), VH1 SD & HD (English), Surya Movies (Malayalam), DD Bangla & Colors Bangla Cinema (Bengali). 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.

ISL Fantasy

Top picks and players to watch out for

Adrian Luna (10.5cr)

Started the season strongly with two goals and one assist in four games

Danish Farooq (7.3cr)

Has scored once each in the last couple of games for Kerala Blasters FC

Mourtada Fall (5.3cr)

Has bagged two goals and 23 clearances in three matches in this campaign

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