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Preview: Kerala Blasters eye semifinal spot with win over FC Goa

Published at :March 6, 2022 at 1:54 AM
Modified at :December 13, 2023 at 1:01 PM
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(Courtesy : ISL Media)

Joseph Biswas

Both sides played out a four goal thriller in the reverse fixture.

With destiny in their own hands, Kerala Blasters would want to secure qualification to the semifinals with a win over FC Goa, when the two sides meet in the Indian Super League at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim on Sunday.

The Stakes

Kerala Blasters FC

Kerala are placed fourth in the points table having 33 points, two more than fifth-placed Mumbai whom they beat in a crunch encounter in the last game.

If they win on Sunday, they will qualify as the fourth team to the semifinals irrespective of what Mumbai do against Hyderabad FC on Saturday night. A draw will also be enough for Kerala to advance given their better head-to-head record against the Islanders. Kerala have done a double over the defending champions this season. If Mumbai drop points on Saturday, Kerala will automatically qualify.

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This has been nothing short of a stellar season for Kerala, the team from the south winning nine games out of 19 and playing some eye-catching football under head coach Ivan Vukomanovic.

"We cannot calculate anything. We have to fight for points and the approach will be the same. This is how we think and that is the only way to approach the game," head coach Vukomanovic said.

Summing up the season so far, he said: "We all started working together and since then we have been in the right way. This is just the beginning and the process needs time. It takes time to build. We created some interesting things and the team backed each other. The success we got is the product of the process."

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FC Goa

FC Goa have had a season to forget having picked up only 18 points from their 19 games so far. They are in ninth place and can climb to 8th if they win their final match of the season. This is only the second time that Goa have failed to qualify for the semifinals. Goa had the worst possible start to the season, losing the first three games and only picking up seven points in the first six games under now ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando. 

In the next 15 matches following his departure, they won only twice underlining their plight.

"We want to end on a good note. The focus is more on our game. We want to perform to the best of our abilities and we will do our best," head coach Derrick Pereira said. "We needed to be more precise in decision making. Individual mistakes have put us down," he added.

Team News

As mentioned by head coach Derrick Pereira in the pre-match press conference, FC Goa don’t have any COVID cases in their camp. However, there will be a few players out due to injuries.

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Kerala will be without the services of Harmanjot Singh Khabra. The former Bengaluru FC full-back is serving the final of his two-match suspension. Jeakson Singh is back in training for the last two games. However, Ivan Vukomanovic doesn't want to rush him back into the team. And so, he is doubtful.

Probable line-ups

FC Goa: Naveen Kumar (GK); Seriton Fernandes, Ivan Gonzalez, Anwar Ali, Aibanbha Dohling; Makan Winkle Chothe, Edu Bedia, Alberto Noguera, Princeton Rebello, Brandon Fernandes; Airam Cabrera.

Kerala Blasters: Prabhsukhan Gill (GK); Nishu Kumar, Enes Sipovic, Ruivah Hormipam, Sandeep Singh; Ayush Adhikari, Lalthathanga Khawlring; Sahal Abdul Samad, Adrian Luna (C), Jorge Pereyra Diaz; Alvaro Vazquez.



FC Goa and Kerala Blasters have locked horns 15 times prior to this encounter. The Goan outfit have managed to secure nine victories. Meanwhile, Kerala Blasters have won thrice. The remaining three encounters ended in a draw. Kerala Blasters have also won only one in their last 10 meetings against the Gaurs. The reverse fixture between these teams ended in a 2-2 draw.

Did you know?

  • The last time Kerala Blasters defeated FC Goa was way back on November 8, 2016.
  • This is the second time FC Goa won’t be making it to the playoffs. The last time it happened was in 2016, when they ended at the bottom of the table.
  • If Prabhsukhan Gill wins the Golden Glove award, then at 21, he’ll be the youngest footballer to achieve it.

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