The Yellow Army settled for a draw against FC Goa in their most recent game on Saturday.
The Indian Super League (ISL) will witness a very competitive game on Wednesday, when Kerala Blasters lock horns with Jamshedpur FC at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim, Goa. While both teams are currently in the bottom half of the points table, they do also have realistic chances of making it into the playoffs with seven league matches remaining.
One of the biggest problems faced by Jamshedpur would be the dip in form of star striker Nerijus Valskis, who hasn’t found the net consistently since December. Meanwhile, the Blasters also have their fair share of troubles due to injuries and suspensions.
With three wins and five draws from 13 matches, the Blasters are at the ninth place in the ISL standings. But, they are tied in terms of points (14) with seventh-placed Bengaluru FC and JFC in eighth. A win will propel the Kochi outfit to fifth place, above Chennaiyin FC, who are currently at that position with 16 points.
The two recent draws against SC East Bengal and FC Goa have slightly marred their chances of progressing further up the table. Both matches could have been won by the two-time finalists and they would be keen to break the deadlock when they face Jamshedpur on Wednesday.
At the same time, the Men of Steel also have 14 points. A win will increase their chances of qualifying for the playoffs, which is why both teams will be playing for the three points. JFC will also not have forgotten the last time both sides met, which was earlier this month. KBFC won the game by a narrow one-goal margin back then.
Kerala Blasters head coach Kibu Vicuna will be absent, as he has been suspended for a match following his second yellow card of the season against FC Goa. Rahul KP and Jeakson Singh will also be serving one-match bans, because they both picked up their fourth yellow card of the season against the Gaurs.
Nishu Kumar, Costa Nhamoinesu, Jordan Murray and Jessel Carneiro are the KBFC players who are recovering from injuries. Among them, Murray and Carneiro are more likely than not to feature in the matchday squad, although it is up to the management to decide if they have to be a part of it. The others in the team are fit and will be available for selection, with assistant coach Ishfaq Ahmed managing them from the sidelines in Vicuna’s absence.
Jamshedpur FC, meanwhile, have most of their squad available for selection. Peter Hartley also has had four bookings this season, which is why he will be suspended for the game. A few players have slight niggles, but Owen Coyle is expected to work with all or most of the usual names on Wednesday.
Seiminlen Doungel and Farukh Choudhary, who are the club’s new signings, will most probably feature in the squad alongside David Grande and Nick Fitzgerald, who are back to full fitness.
Kerala Blasters: Albino (GK); Sandeep, Kone, Hakku, Jessel; Rohit, Gomez; Pereyra, Hooper, Sahal; Murray.
Jamshedpur FC: Rehenesh, Gahlot, Eze, Mandi, Ricky, Monroy, Amarjit, Jadhav, Lima, Isaac, Valskis.
It is known to be a very closely-fought affair whenever these two sides have met in the past. In the total of seven matches, Jamshedpur FC have won two times, while Kerala Blasters won for the first time against them earlier this season. They have also played out four draws.
The last time these teams had faced each other was on January 10, when a brace from Jordan Murray along with a goalkeeping error from TP Rehenesh helped the Yellow Army win 3-2.
Man to Watch
Facundo Pereyra (Kerala Blasters)
The Argentine midfielder has created the most goalscoring chances for Kerala Blasters this season. He also has the most key passes for them so far and was once again in the thick of things against FC Goa on Saturday, when Rahul KP scored off his corner-kick.
In the absence of Rahul, Facundo can be expected to start as a wide No.10 on the right or left flank, from where he would look to provide assistance to the likes of Sahal Abdul Samad, Gary Hooper and Vicente Gomez in attack.
Nerijus Valskis (Jamshedpur FC)
A beacon of hope for Jamshedpur FC has to be top scorer Nerijus Valskis. But, the Lithuanian seems to have misplaced his scoring boots since December, having netted only twice since then.
Interestingly, both those goals came against Kerala Blasters earlier this month, so it would not be surprising if he is among the goals once again on Wednesday. The Men of Steel will be looking to bank on him to get on to the scoresheet once again against the Blasters.
Did You Know?
- With 22 goals, Kerala Blasters have conceded the most among all teams so far this season.
- Jamshedpur FC have received the most number of red cards this season (4).
- Kerala Blasters’ Facundo Pereyra has created the most goalscoring chances (33) and made key passes (31) in the ISL so far this season.
The match between Kerala Blasters and Jamshedpur FC will be 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 live on Disney+ Hotstar VIP and Jio TV.