The Men of Steel ended 2020 on a high by beating Bengaluru FC in the last week of December.
Jamshedpur FC will return to action after a break, as they clash against Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League on Sunday. The Men of Steel finished 2020 on a high with a win against Bengaluru FC and will like to start this one in a similar fashion. Owen Coyle’s men are currently in the fifth position and a win against Kerala Blasters will propel them into the top four, as they have a match in hand.
Kerala Blasters, on the other hand, will be looking to get back to winning ways against Jamshedpur FC after they lost 2-4 against Odisha FC. There is a lot of pressure on the players and head coach Kibu Vicuna, as the southerners are languishing in the 10th position in the table and have been underwhelming in the majority of their matches this season.
At the start of the season, Jamshedpur FC aimed to make it to the playoffs for the first time in their history and with Owen Coyle at the helm, it looks very possible for now. The Men of Steel have been consistent in both attack and defence, as they had a five-match unbeaten streak before their loss to FC Goa.
Despite missing several important players due to injury, Coyle and his men have shown great heart and character to churn out results consistently. Now, following a break, Jamshedpur FC will look to continue that momentum with a win against Kerala Blasters.
Meanwhile, Kibu Vicuna is under a lot of pressure after his team’s defeat against Odisha FC and a bad result in the upcoming match may lead to consequences for the Spanish tactician. With only a single win in nine matches, the southerners have been below-par and Vicuna is still not sure about his best starting XI. It will be a crucial fixture for the Yellow Army to get back on their feet, as they need someone to inspire them back to winning ways.
The break has given the injured players at Jamshedpur time to recuperate and we may see the likes of David Grande, Joyner Lourenco and even Narender Gahlot in the matchday squad. Owen Coyle would look to ease them back into action rather than putting them straight into the starting XI.
Kibu Vicuna has a huge task ahead to choose the squad that can keep the likes of Nerijus Valskis and Jackichand Singh at bay. But, he will be forced to make some changes in defence, as Nishu Kumar and Costa Nhamionesu are doubtful for this fixture because of injury concerns. So, we can expect Prasanth K to start this match at right-back.
Jamshedpur FC: Rehenesh (GK); Renthlei, Eze, Hartley, Ricky, Monroy, Mobashir, Lima, Aniket, Jackichand, Valskis
Kerala Blasters: Albino (GK); Prasanth, Kone, Sandeep, Meitei; Puitea, Rohit, Gomez, Pereyra; Hooper, Murray
It is known to be a very cagey affair whenever these two sides have met in the past. In the total of six matches, Jamshedpur FC have won two times, while Kerala Blasters are yet to win a match against the Men of Steel. They have also played out four draws which proves how close the matches have been.
The last time these teams had faced each other was on January 19, 2020 – when a 87th minute own goal by Bartholomew Ogbeche helped Jamshedpur FC to clinch Kerala Blasters by 3-2.
Man to Watch
The Nigerian defender has been one of the underrated performers in the league this season. Eze has shown resilience in defence and has developed a great partnership with Peter Hartley. He has also chipped in with occasional goals which have won Jamshedpur matches.
Eze’s physical stature allows him to be a threat from set-pieces at either end. Apart from scoring goals, he has been great defensively as well. The Nigerian has good defensive awareness and has also developed a great bond with Hartley. He will continue to be a vital cog in Coyle’s plans.
A beacon of hope for Kerala Blasters this season has to be Australian forward Jordan Murray. The Aussie has been positive with his approach even in the last couple of matches, with the intent to score goals or create chances.
Murray’s hold-up play is quite well and he likes to bring players around him into the game by stretching the opposition defence. He also likes to drop deep to create chances and can be a handful for the Jamshedpur FC backline.
Did you Know?
- Kerala Blasters are yet to win a game against Jamshedpur FC.
- The Blasters have already scored four headed goals this season, which is the joint highest this season, along with Mumbai City FC.
- Jamshedpur FC defender Stephen Eze is second in terms of inceptions made (27) this season. Only behind Rowllin Borges (31).
The live telecast of the match between Jamshedpur FC and Kerala Blasters will be available on Star Sports Network across several regional languages. Live streaming of the match will be available on Hotstar and Jio TV.