Kerala Blasters FC will take on NorthEast United FC on April 6, at 7:30 pm IST, hoping to regain momentum before the final leg of the season commences, having already qualified for the season.

The Yellow Army had a stellar first half of the campaign that put them in a strong position to finish in the top-six. Head coach Ivan Vukomanovic has now taken the club into the playoffs in all three seasons that he has been at the helm.

With three losses and a draw in their last five matches, they have dropped 11 points out of a possible 15. They lost to East Bengal FC by 4-2 in Kochi in their previous encounter. On the other hand, the Highlanders are in the penultimate spot with 20 points but still have nine of them to play for in the remaining three games.

Realistically, they still can qualify for the playoffs, and that hope should keep them going especially against an out of form Kerala Blasters FC. However, they were handed a 4-1 humbling by Mumbai City FC in their last game, and it will be interesting to see the road to recovery that the Highlanders undertake to bounce back from that loss.

What’s at stake?

NorthEast United FC

NorthEast United FC is winless in its last five meetings with Kerala Blasters FC, having drawn twice and lost thrice in the process. The Highlanders have a longer such winless streak only against Hyderabad FC (9) and Mumbai City FC (6) in the competition. They have not won any of their last three games in the ISL, losing twice on a trot in fact.

The last time they were defeated more times on a stretch was a sequence of three matches from February-September 2023. The Highlanders have won 11.6 tackles per game in the current season, the second highest such aggregated by any team after Odisha FC (11.8). Kerala Blasters FC will know that the going won’t be easy for them, with the home side constantly eager to win the ball back and embark on their offensive endeavours quickly.

Kerala Blasters FC

Kerala Blasters FC drew once and lost thrice in the team’s last four ISL clashes. The last time they went on a longer winless streak was 11 games from January-November 2021. They have not kept a clean sheet in their last eight matches, and failing to do so once again will result in their longest such run in the competition’s history.

They need to work reasonably on their defensive discipline, having conceded six penalties and four goals out of the same this season. The only team next to them on this front is NorthEast United FC, who have given away four spot-kicks so far. Will we see more goals coming from 12 yards out this time around?

Key Players to Watch Out

Mirshad Michu (NorthEast United FC)

Mirshad Michu has made 8.6 successful long passes per game since the start of 2024 in the Indian Super League, the highest such aggregate of all keepers. Michu has made 43 successful long passes in his five games this calendar year. He has made 14 punches, 20 catches, 32 clearances, and also made 172 recoveries. Michu has averaged 24 passes per game. Given that Kerala Blasters FC forwards are pretty lethal, the goalkeeper will be called up to action frequently, and his performances will be critical for a positive outcome for the Highlanders.

Dimitrios Diamantakos (Kerala Blasters FC)

Dimitrios Diamantakos has been consistently efficient for Kerala Blasters FC, having scored 13 goals and three assists in 17 appearances. 71.87% of his shots have been directed on target, and he has averaged 18 passes per game at 73% accuracy. Diamantakos has a goal conversion rate of 40.62% and he has made 48 recoveries along with having won 53 duels too. The striker has made 65 touches in the box of the opposition, completed 10 successful dribbles, made 21 key passes, and has also created 24 goal-scoring opportunities to go with them.

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Played – 19

NorthEast United FC – 4

Kerala Blasters FC – 8

Draws – 7

Trivia: Dimitrios Diamantakos (29 goal contributions) is two away from becoming the leading goal contributor for Kerala Blasters FC in the ISL (Adrian Luna – 30).

Team Talk

“It’s important to win and not draw. I watched all the goals that we have conceded this season and I think we have dropped 17-18 points so far. If we even got seven-eight of those points, we’d be fourth now,” NorthEast United FC head coach Juan Pedro Benali said before the game.

“It’s always a very tough away game, far away from Kochi. We will see a couple of new names, couple of young players who will take their first steps in the ISL from this match,” Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic said in the pre-match press conference.

ISL Fantasy

Dimitrios Diamantakos (8.4cr)

Has won 89 ISL fantasy points so far

Daisuke Sakai (3.7cr)

Has bagged 43 ISL fantasy points in 2023-24

Nestor Albiach (4.3cr)

Has earned 59 ISL fantasy points in the current campaign

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.