The two teams are separated by a single point which makes the fixture all the more exciting.

SC East Bengal look to maintain their impressive resurgence and move closer to a possible playoffs place when they face Kerala Blasters in their first game in the second half of the Indian Super League (ISL) season.

The Red & Gold Brigade are now unbeaten in five games after a dismal start to the season, but are hungry for consistency in order to start climbing the table. However, their opponents have also shown a reinvigorated spirit over the last few games and seem to be getting better. Both teams have improved since their last meeting earlier in the campaign and knowing how similar their playing styles are, this should be an intriguing battle.

The Stakes

SC East Bengal are well aware of how underwhelming they were in the first half of their debut ISL season. However, they also realize that winning games in the second half can also land them a spot in the playoffs! Indeed, the competition for the top four could blow wide open over this period and the Red & Gold Brigade need wins to put pressure on those above them.

They at least need to defeat teams who are even below them in the league table. Robbie Fowler’s side are producing some attractive football, but he’ll need them to be more clinical in finishing off their chances and improving their decision-making in the final third to break open Kerala’s resolute defence and produce a potential goalfest for their fans.

Kerala Blasters also realize that another defeat could blow their chance of qualifying for the top four this season. While Kibu Vicuna’s side have shown a lot of fighting spirit over the last few games, they need to be more consistent in winning them if they’re to accomplish their objectives.

The Yellow Army will be brave in taking the fight to East Bengal, position their forwards in numbers and play some free-flowing attacking football which their coach wants them to. After drawing the reverse fixture, the Blasters will be desperate for a more entertaining clash and a win to topple their opponents in the league table.

Team News

SC East Bengal don’t have any significant injury problems right now, with Loken Meitei being the only prominent name on the sideline with a knock.

For Kerala Blasters, Bakary Kone is injured and training alone, so he’s unlikely to return to the squad. Moreover, new signing Juande might find himself in squad but a starting XI chance is unlikely.

Head-to-Head

WATCH: Jeakson Singh’s last-minute equaliser meant Kerala Blasters forced SC East Bengal to a draw back in December

SC East Bengal and Kerala Blasters have only met once in the ISL, when they played out a 1-1 draw earlier in this season.

Probable Lineups

SC East Bengal: Debjit, Gaikwad, Neville, Fox, Narayan, Steinmann, Milan, Surchandra, Bright, Jairu, Pilkington

Kerala Blasters: Albino, Nishu, Sandeep, Costa, Jessel; Jeakson, Vicente; Rahul, Hooper, Facundo; Murray

Man to Watch

Bright Enobakhare (SC East Bengal)

Bright Enobakhare has been the spark East Bengal desperately needed to kick off their season properly and has been at the heart of their recent success. Now facing a fragile Kerala Blasters defence, he’ll be hungry to make an impact. The former Wolves man has tormented defenders with his amazing dribbling ability and tendency to fly past bodies with ease. Bright just needs to improve his decision-making in the final third a bit more, upon doing which he could orchestrate a lot of good things for the Red & Gold in Friday’s game.

Jordan Murray (Kerala Blasters)

Jordan Murray has probably been Kerala Blasters’ most consistent attacker this season and produced the goods during their highs as well as lows. He’s their top scorer with five goals so far and been a real active figure in the final third. Murray has the creative genes to cause a lot of problems to East Bengal’s defence and create stuff for his teammates on Friday. But, more importantly, the Australian forward will look to be a menace with his movement in the final third and capitalize on whatever chances lie in his path to help his side to a big win.

Did You Know?

  • Debjit Majumder has made the most saves by any goalkeeper in the ISL with 33 stops this season.
  • Facundo Pereyra has registered 24 key passes this season for Kerala Blasters, but only seen one end up as an assist.
  • Matti Steinmann has a dribbling success rate of 77.3% from at least 20 attempt dribbles, the best for any player in the team.

Telecast

The match between SC East Bengal and Kerala Blasters FC is set to be telecast live on Star Sports 1 SD & HD, Star Sports 2 SD & HD (English), Star Sports Hindi 1 SD & HD, Star Sports 3 and several other regional languages. Live streaming of the match will be available on Hotstar and Jio TV.

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