The hosts are currently on a six-game winless streak in the league.
Kerala Blasters are set to host Jamshedpur FC, in what will be their eighth game of the ISL 2019-20 season. Having drawn each of their last two games, the two clubs will be looking to return to winning ways when they lock horns on Friday.
The hosts have not won a game since their 2-1 success against ATK in the season opener in October. With the side slowly finding their balance and injuries easing, Eelco Schattorie will be hopeful of leading his team to their first win in two months.
While the campaign of Jamshedpur FC has been much better than the Kerala outfit, they have some similarities. The Men of the Steel began the term with back-to-back wins, but slumped to a bad run, which has seen them win just one of their last five games.
Schattorie has asserted on several occasions that his side are capable of fighting for the playoffs spots, if it was not for the injuries. While Kerala Blasters have received a major boost in the shape of Mario Arques returning to training, it is high time that they started adding more points, if they want to finish in the top four.
While Antonio Iriondo’s men have managed just one win in their last five matches, having started the campaign with two, they have the opportunity to leapfrog FC Goa, Bengaluru FC and ATK and go on top of the league table on Friday.
Marred by successive injuries, Kerala Blasters have been extensively affected due to the unavailability of several players. To Schattorie’s relief, Mario Arques returned to training recently, but it remains to be seen if the Spaniard has attained match fitness.
Moustapha Gning, who missed the side’s last three games due to an injury, was seen participating in training. However, if the Senegalese will feature on Friday is still unclear.
There have been no further updates on the fitness of captain Bartholomew Ogbeche and winger Rahul KP.
Star striker Sergio Castel missed the Men of Steel’s last game against Chennaiyin FC because of a knock. Spanish midfielder Piti has also been unavailable for Iriondo in their last three games.
If the two foreigners are not fit to return against Kerala Blasters, Iriondo is going to have a selection headache on Friday.
The two sides have locked horns four times in total. Three of those games ended in draws, with the Jharkand-based club winning one. Kerala Blasters are yet to win against Jamshedpur FC.
Man to Watch
Raphael Messi Bouli (Kerala Blasters)
Having started in each of Kerala Blasters’ last three games, the Cameroonian found the back of the net in back-to-back games against Goa and Mumbai City.
With two goals in his last two games, Messi Bouli is the man to watch out for on Friday. If Ogbeche is not fit to start, the 27-year-old will be expected to lead the side’s frontline.
CK Vineeth (Jamshedpur FC)
Like Messi Bouli, Vineeth has also started in each of Jamshedpur’s last three games. The Men of Steel are unbeaten in those three games, winning one and drawing two.
While the Malayali is yet to score or assist a goal this season, what better way to open his account than getting involved in a goal against his former club, for whom he made over 40 appearances.
Rehenesh; Rakip, Gaikwad, Drobarov, Jessel; Jeakson, Cidoncha, Sahal, Rahul, Seityasen; Messi Bouli.
Subrata; Tiri, Memo, Gurung, Gahlot; Monroy, Choudhary, Rahman, Acosta, Vineeth; Passi.
Did You Know?
- Kerala Blasters are yet to win a game against Jamshedpur FC.
- Blasters head coach Eelco Schattorie, who managed NorthEast United last term, is also winless against the Men of Steel, having drawn both his games against them.
- Bartholomew Ogbeche scored the only goal for the Dutchman’s side across two games against Jamshedpur FC 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.