The Yellow Army desperately needs a win if they are to stay in contention for the ISL playoffs.

Kerala Blasters FC will know they cannot afford to drop points if they are to qualify for the semifinals, and when they take on Chennaiyin FC in an Indian Super League clash at the Tilak Maidan Stadium, the men in yellow will have their task cut out. Hyderabad are already through to the semis, making it a fight for the remaining three spots. Jamshedpur FC have an advantage as they are seated second having 31 points, but with two games in hand.

Kerala lost to league leaders Hyderabad in their last outing, remaining in fifth place with 27 points from 17 games. Mumbai City FC are fourth with 28 in their kitty, and the Islanders take on FC Goa on Saturday in a late kickoff, meaning Kerala Blasters would want to keep them on their toes with a victory earlier in the day.

The Stakes

Kerala Blasters FC

“We are creating chances we are working hard. But luck is an important factor for football and we have to deserve luck in the upcoming matches,” Ivan Vukomanovic said on the eve of the game.

Alvaro Vazquez has been in top form and showed his class once again, in the second half against Hyderabad. Nishu Kumar and Jeakson Singh are doubtful for Saturday, Ivan Vukomanović said. Jorge Pereyra Díaz was not available for the last game as he was serving a one-match suspension, and the coach said they are still awaiting his verdict.

“We will see them in training today and take a decision. We will not take any risk and I don’t like losing players at this stage of the season. So we will be careful.”

Chennaiyin FC

For Chennaiyin, the season is over in terms of pushing for a semifinal spot but the Sabir Pasha-coached side have pride to play for. They find themselves in the middle of a winless run that has seen them not win any of their last 6 games.

The club have 2 draws and 4 losses in their last 6 games and they would want to get back to winning ways and finish the season on a high. Their defensive issues have been found out in the last 6 games; the club have conceded at least 2 goals a game in 5 of their last 6 games.

“It’s all about motivation as it’s the end of the season and everybody is in a different mood. But every match is a competition and as professionals, we are putting a point to do better in the upcoming matches,” said Pasha.

Team news

Kerala Blasters FC

Kerala will have Jeakson Singh and Nishu Kumar available for selection. Hormipam has recovered from his injury and will be available. Jorge Pereyra Diaz has served his one-game suspension and the coach expects him to be available for the match.

Chennaiyin FC

Chennaiyin are expected to have everyone available for the game against Kerala Blasters as all players are match-fit and there are no suspensions.

Head-to-Head

The Marina Machans hold a lead of six wins over the Tuskers’ four victories across 17 matches. Seven of these matches have resulted in a stalemate as the last fixture between these two ended in a 3-0 victory for Kerala.

Probable Lineups

Kerala Blasters: Prabhsukhan Gill (GK); Harmanjot Khabra, Marko Leskovic, Enes Sipovic, Nishu Kumar; Sahal Abdul Samad, Jeakson Singh, Lalthathanga Khawlhring, Adrian Luna; Jorge Diaz, Alvaro Vazquez.

Chennaiyin FC: Debjit Majumder (GK); Reagan Singh, Deepak Devrani, Slavko Damjanovic, Narayan Das; Ariel Borysiuk, Anirudh Thapa (C), Ninthoi Meetei, Vladimir Koman, Rahim Ali; Nerijus Valskis.

Did You Know?

  • Kerala Blasters are on the verge of qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in five years.
  • Adrian Luna needs one assist to be the joint top assist provider of the season.
  • No team has scored lesser goals than Chennaiyin FC this season.

Telecast

The match between Kerala Blasters and Chennaiyin FC will be played at the Tilak Maidan, Goa, from 7:30 pm on 26th February. The game will be telecasted live on the Star Sports Network. It will also be live-streamed on Disney+Hotstar and JioTV.

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