The hosts go into the game as underdogs having won just once this season.
Kerala Blasters and FC Goa will lock horns at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi on Sunday in what will be their sixth game of the season. Having lost their previous games, both sides will have their eyes set on returning to winning ways.
The hosts are on a winless streak, having lost three and drawn one of their last four games, following their victory against ATK in the season opener. As we get closer to the game, Eelco Schattorie will be feeling the pressure of getting points on the board, if Kerala Blasters have to make it to the playoffs.
FC Goa, on the other hand, Goa slumped to their first defeat of the season, after Jamshedpur FC beat them 0-1 at the Fatorda Stadium on Tuesday. Sergio Lobera will be hoping that the loss will be just a one-off and his team can earn the three points in Kochi.
The stakes for Kerala Blasters remain the same as in their previous game and the ones before that. The Yellow Army kicked off their campaign with a comeback win against ATK, but have not tasted victory after that.
With the side returning to their home and FC Goa coming on the back of a defeat, Eelco Schattorie will want to make sure that his team get the win and kick-start their season once again.
FC Goa’s game against Jamshedpur saw them face their first defeat of the season. Interestingly, the Gaurs’ first defeat last season came against the Men of Steel at the same stage.
However, they made sure that the loss didn’t bring their momentum crashing down and returned to winning ways immediately. In fact, three of the four times they faced defeat last term, they have bounced back with wins.
That is exactly what Sergio Lobera’s men should and will look to do against Kerala Blasters tomorrow.
Eelco Schattorie, would probably flinch when he hears the words ‘team news’ or ‘injuries.’ Since Sandesh Jhingan was sidelined with a major injury, Kerala Blasters have received setback after setback.
While there are still some injury concerns in the Yellow Army squad, they were given a major boost this week,“ as Spanish midfielder Mario Arques returned to training after recovering from the injury that he picked up in the season opener.
It will be also interesting to see if Jairo Rodrigues’ replacement Vlatko Drobarov gets his first start on Sunday.
As Kerala Blasters have their bout with injuries, suspensions are what is causing Sergio Lobera a headache. Seiminlen Doungel and Hugo Boumous were handed bans following the on-field incident in the game against NorthEast United and will miss the match against the Blasters.
Joining the two will be Morrocan midfielder Ahmed Jahouh, who was given his marching orders in the second half of the Gaurs’ loss against Jamshedpur.
Talismanic forward, Ferran Corominas missed their last game with an injury and it remains to be seen if he is fit to return to action.
The two sides have met ten times so far and it is FC Goa who have the upper hand. Goa have emerged victorious on seven occasions, while Kerala Blasters have won thrice. This fixture has never ended in a draw.
Men to Watch
Sahal Abdul Samad (Kerala Blasters)
It is hard to ignore the quality of the 22-year-old. Sahal setup Rahul KP’s goal against Hyderabad FC, which is the last goal the Blasters have scored, earlier this month. In their previous game against Bengaluru FC, Sahal came on as a substitute and played a key pass to Rahul, who then set up a goal, but was flagged offside.
With skipper Bartholomew Ogbeche failing to fire recently, Kerala Blasters will want Sahal to deliver the goods against Sergio Lobera’s men.
Lenny Rodrigues (FC Goa)
The 32-year-old is not someone who is often in the limelight, but he has been a massive performer for Goa this season. Although the midfielder could have added responsibilities in the absence of Ahmed Jahouh, his consistency so far has shown that he can be trusted to do the job.
With Sahal posing the major threat from the Blasters’ side, Lenny could be key for Goa, as they look to shut their opponents out.
Rehenesh; Rakip, Gaikwad, Drobarov, Jessel; Jeakson, Cidoncha, Sahal, Rahul, Messi Bouli; Ogbeche.
Nawaz; Seriton, Fall, Pena, Mandar; Lenny, Bedia, Jackichand, Brandon; Corominas, Manvir.
Did You Know?
- Kerala Blasters have lost their last four games against FC Goa.
- Goa have not lost consecutive league games since February 2018.
- Eelco Schattorie has not lost against Goa, having won one and drawn the other of his two games against them with NorthEast United last season.
The game will be telecast live on the Star Sports Network on Friday evening from 7:30 PM IST. It will also be streamed live on Hotstar and Jio TV.