The Islanders defeated the Blasters 2-0 in the reverse fixture.
Mumbai City will square off against Kerala Blasters at the Mumbai Football Arena (MFA) for their upcoming fixture of the ISL 2022-23 season on Sunday.
The two teams are in a sublime run of form so far. The Islanders have not dealt with a single defeat thus far whereas the Blasters have been unbeaten for the last eight games with their last loss coming as far back as in late October against Odisha FC. Des Buckingham’s men have arguably rolled over sides on many an occasion in this campaign but Ivan Vukomanovic’s men promise to put forth a tough contest in the backyard of the home side.
Mumbai have been relentless, and at times flawless, this year. But, they have just slipped down from the top spot to Hyderabad FC, who have gained an advantage of a single point over them. The Nizams have also played an additional game as compared to Mumbai and the latter in all certainty will make up for this deficit on Sunday.
But, teams often end up succumbing to a downward spiral at this stage of the campaign. Buckingham will be more than wary of it, considering his experience with the side last season. The Islanders need to ensure that they reclaim their position atop the table as soon as possible.
The Blasters have regained confidence and charisma after an indifferent start to the campaign. They have steadily moved their way up and sit third in the table, five points behind the second-placed Mumbai, at the end of 12 games. A playoff qualification is all but secured unless they mess up big time in the next eight games.
However, the previous year’s runners-up will be edging to break into the top two and bridge the gap between them and Mumbai for starters. A win here will help bring that difference down to two points and it becomes anyone’s game from there on. Rest assured, Vukomanovic is going to push his men hard to hand Mumbai their first defeat of the season in this match.
Injury & Team News
Mumbai City possess a fully fit roster for this game! Meanwhile, Kerala Blasters will miss Sandeep Singh due to suspension but Ivan Kaliuzhnyi is set to return from the same.
Mumbai City and Kerala Blasters have met 17 times in the ISL so far.
Mumbai City – 7
Kerala Blasters – 4
Drawn – 6
Mumbai City (4-2-3-1)
Phurba Lachenpa (GK); Rahul Bheke, Rostyn Griffiths, Mehtab Singh, Mandar Rao Dessai; Ahmed Jahouh, Lalengmawia Ralte; Lallianzuala Chhangte, Greg Stewart, Bipin Singh; Jorge Pereyra Diaz.
Kerala Blasters (4-4-2)
Prabhsukhan Gill (GK); Harmanjot Khabra, Hormipam Ruivah, Marko Leskovic, Jessel Carneiro; Rahul KP, Jeakson Singh, Ivan Kaliuzhnyi, Sahal Abdul Samad; Dimitrios Diamantakos, Adrian Luna.
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Player to Watch
Lallianzuala Chhangte (Mumbai City)
The dearth of prolific Indian goal-scorers has been a constant source of concern so far in the ISL. However, Chhangte has broken that notion this season with seven goals and two assists in 12 matches so far. His second-half brace helped the Islanders round off an incredible comeback victory at the Kalinga Stadium against the Juggernauts on Monday.
The winger joins Nasser El Khayati and Cleiton Silva at the top of the goal-scoring charts currently. From long-range shots to neat finishes inside the box – Chhangte has demonstrated a holistic improvement in his overall gameplay so far. Sunday is another opportunity for him to further his imperious touch until now.
Sahal Abdul Samad (Kerala Blasters)
Mumbai’s incredible, seamless attacking gameplay flows from their base of the midfield. The trio of Jahouh, Apuia and Stewart interlink incredibly to dictate the proceedings from the centre of the park. Sahal might be the answer for Kerala to break this jigsaw puzzle that most sides in the league have struggled to unravel so far.
The 25-year-old has both the tenacity as well as the creativity to break through Mumbai’s midfield and create terse, concrete goal-scoring chances for Kerala in the final third. He will have to bring his ‘A’ game to the table to help the visitors get a positive outcome from this encounter.
Did You Know?
- Mumbai City have scored the most goals (36) in the ISL 2022-23.
- Kerala Blasters’ centre-back Marko Leskovic has recorded the most interceptions (24) so far in the campaign.
- Kerala defeated Mumbai in both their league encounters in the previous season of the ISL.
The match between Mumbai City and Kerala Blasters will take place at the Mumbai Football Arena on January 8th (Sunday). The kick-off time is 7:30 pm IST. The game will be telecasted live on the Star Sports Network. Disney+HotStar and JioTV will also stream the match.