The Nizams need to start winning to stay in contention for the playoffs.
Hyderabad FC face Kerala Blasters in their next Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 fixture and will hope to turn their fortunes around. The team are right in the middle of an exhilarating race for the top four places and must win their game against the Yellow Army to stay in contention.
As for Kibu Vicuna’s men, with nothing much left to play for, they might just play the role of party spoilers. The last three games present a chance for the tactician to show why the club must continue to have faith in him after the season is over.
With differing ambitions coming into this fixture, both the sides will give their best since the league phase is heading towards culmination.
Hyderabad FC have somewhat shot themselves in the foot. Their mid-season from was immaculate, which had put them firmly with a chance to finish in the playoffs positions. However, with only one victory in the last seven games, their season looks to have derailed.
With a crucial season-decider against FC Goa yet to come, Manolo Marquez must capitalize on KBFC’s poor form and go all out for three points, thereby improving their chances for a top four finish.
On the other hand, Kerala Blasters are rotting away in the second to last position on the league table, with only 16 points in 17 fixtures. The club with huge ambitions have undergone yet another underwhelming campaign.
The last three fixtures present a chance to play for pride and give the fans who have backed the team from their homes, something to cheer about.
Nikhil Poojary continues to be absent from the squad with an injury. Apart from him, Hyderabad have a full strength squad to choose from and one should expect Joel Chianese to retain his place in the starting XI. Mohammed Yasir will not be available, as he received a red card in the match against SC East Bengal.
Kerala Blasters should field an unchanged lineup from the last game, given that Nishu Kumar and Facundo Pereyra are still recovering from their injuries, while the others are available for selection. Jessel Carneiro could start against HFC, after coming on as a substitute against Odisha. The front two of Jordan Murray and Gary Hooper should lead the attack.
The last three meetings between the clubs have seen KBFC edging the Nizams on two occasions and losing one. The reverse fixture ended in a 2-0 victory for the Kerala-based outfit on 27 December.
Hyderabad FC: Kattimani (GK); Mishra, Rai, Onaindia, Chinglansena; Chianese, Victor, Sastre, Narzary; Aridane, Colaco.
Kerala Blasters FC: Gomes (GK); Sandeep, Costa, Jeakson, Carneiro; Rahul, Juande, Gomez, Sahal; Murray, Hooper.
Man to Watch
Aridane Santana (Hyderabad FC)
Hyderabad FC’s most obvious attacking threat Aridane Santana will look to continue his goalscoring form when the team faces Kerala Blasters. The striker scored a vital equalizer in the last game to secure a point as well.
With marauding full-backs who whip good crosses into the box, Aridane will be gunning to get on the end of them. His aerial ability and positional sense make him a tricky operator. He is the top scorer for the Nizams with eight strikes to his name.
Jordan Murray (Kerala Blasters)
Jordan Murray has been the most consistent player going forward for Kibu Vicuna. The striker scored a vital goal against Odisha in the last game, taking his tally to seven goals, the most by any player from the squad.
His partnership with Gary Hooper has been a plus point lately and the opposition defence must be wary of the pair.
Did You Know?
- Hyderabad FC have never qualified for the playoffs.
- Hyderabad FC are on par with FC Goa for the most number of draws in the season with nine stalemates.
- With 29 shots in 13 games, Sahal Abdul Samad is the leading Indian midfielder for most shots taken.
The match between Hyderabad FC and Kerala Blasters 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, Star Gold 2 (Hindi), Asianet Plus (Malayalam), and Star Sports regional channels (in Bangla, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Marathi). It will also be streamed live on Disney+ Hotstar VIP and Premium and Jio TV.