New Delhi: Kerala Blasters take on FC Goa in Match 23 of the Indian Super League at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi today.
The hosts are placed seventh on the league table, while the visitors are last on eighth position. Hence, this is a battle of two bottom teams of the ISL.
After having played their first five games, both teams have fared almost identically. Kerala, though, are one place above Goa thanks to a better goal difference. Both have four points and a negative goal difference.
Backed by home support and return of captain David James from will definitely boost the morale of the Blaster after a Nicolas Anelka free-kick sunk them in their last encounter against Mumbai City FC.
The Goan team too have reason to cheer as they welcome back their marquee player, Robert Pires from suspension for this match. The Zico-coached side are coming on the back off an adrenaline pumping effort as they came from behind to beat Delhi 2-1 in the last game.
Tolgay Ozbey, who was Goa's hero against Delhi, will once again play a key role against the Blasters. However, their defensive frailties have led to them being fairly inconsistent. Zico would be hoping French defender Youness Bengelloun would successfully address those concerns at the back.
For Kerala, Cedric Hengbart has been the rock at the back. The defender has been marshaling his troops well right from the first game. The Blasters have struggled in front of goal, and they have reason to be slightly disappointed by Michael Chopra's performance.
— Michael Chopra (@MichaelChopra) November 6, 2014
The match could well turn out to be a battle between Goa's attack and Kerala's defence. In a sense, there is a lot riding in this match. A defeat for either team would not only mean they remain at the foot of the table, but also end their chances of catching Kolkata at the top.
Both managers have expressed confidence in their sides to pick up the full points. But as we have seen, the ISL has been unpredictable so far and despite playing at home, Kerala cannot afford to take a flamboyant Goan side lightly.
Kerala Blaster co-owner Sachin Tendulkar is expected to be in the stands to witness this match.
— Kerala Blasters FC (@KBFCOfficial) November 6, 2014