ISL 2022-23: Kerala Blasters FC bank on home support against NorthEast United FC to turn around recent form
Kerala Blasters FC will have a chance to reclaim third place in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) if they beat their next opponents, NorthEast United FC, on Sunday.
Kerala Blasters FC will have a chance to reclaim third place in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 if they beat their next opponents, NorthEast United FC, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Sunday. The Blasters are currently in fourth place and a point behind FC Goa with two games in hand.
In their last two Hero ISL games, Kerala Blasters have lost both of their six points. However, they have recently had four straight victories at home, which is excellent form. The Blasters have won five of their first seven home games this season.
Dimitrios Diamantakos scored his seventh goal of the year in last week's defeat to FC Goa. The Greek striker has led Kerala Blasters FC in goals scored this season and collected four assists. His first goal of the year was scored in the Blasters' 3-0 victory in the preceding season's rematch.
Sahal Samad has only scored and provided an assist once since scoring a brace against the Highlanders in their rematch. Ivan Vukomanovic, the head coach, will demand more of the winger because Rahul KP will also be available following his suspension.
“It’s another game. Every game for us is crucial. There are always teams who want to play their best game against Kerala Blasters, especially when we play in Kochi,” said Vukomanovic. “Sometimes you enjoy a series of positive results and then enter a bad phase where it is important to react. Nobody can do that for us. It is up to us. We have to be brave and clever to have the correct approach for the remaining six games,” he added.
NorthEast United FC has four points this year and is now last in the Hero ISL standings. All but two of the Highlanders' games this season have ended in losses. The Highlanders' two victories have come in games played at home.
In their last 18 efforts, NorthEast United FC have failed to win a Hero ISL away game. They last defeated East Bengal FC on the road in February 2021. Without their leading scorer Wilmar Gil, the Highlanders will be eager to put an end to this streak, but it will be difficult.
In the 4-0 loss to Mumbai City FC last week, the Colombian attacker was dismissed. Despite being without his top scorer, head coach Vincenzo Annese will have Joseba Beitia at his disposal.
“The mood is always positive for a new game because we have enough time to rest and prepare for it. We know the way that they play. We will change something for sure because whenever we play a big team like Kerala, it is hard,” said Annese. “It will be hard to play without him [Gil] because he is our captain. Beitia knows Indian football and the I-League very well. We hope he can perform well in the ISL as well,” he added.
In the 17 Hero ISL encounters between the two sides, the Blasters have won seven, while the Highlanders have won four. Six games have ended in draws.