After tasting defeat against league leaders Chennaiyin FC, Kerala Blasters FC will make every effort to grab three points as they entertain NorthEast United FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi.
Kerala put on an impressive show in the heavyweight clash against Chennaiyin, and often threatened to score against the solid defence. The Sachin Tendulkar co-owned side created goal scoring chances, but failed to capitalise on any of them. After threatening, harrying, frustrating and hassling Marco Materazzi’sChennaiyin, a sudden counterattack saw substitute Bruno Pelissari’s goal materialise in the dying moments of the game as the visitors snatched a win.
The no-nonsense Kerala defence could be in for a stern test against the Highlanders’ attacking style of play. However, they could draw motivation from the visitors’ torrid away form. The Ricki Herbert-managed side has failed to impress in gamesaway from home, with just one win thus far. To make things worse, they were mauled 0-3 by FC Goain their previous fixture at the Fatorda Stadium.
Kerala, meanwhile, could also draw inspiration from their army of home fans. The stadium attendance in the South Indian derby reached a record 61,000 andwith Kerala playing their penultimate home game, fans are expected to pour in for the key clash.
A win will more or less hand Kerala a semi-final berth but the Kochi-based franchise has one major factor to contend with – theabsence of skipper, goalkeeper and mentor David James. The English shot-stopper, who has been as solid as a wall in Kerala’s goalkeeping department, limped out in their last fixture against Chennaiyin, and could miss the next tie.
Still, with fan support, form and an element of luck, the momentum lies with Kerala and are favourites to win considering NorthEast’sdismal away record.