Local giant Mohammedan Sporting (MDSC), will go into the first quarter-final of 131st Indian Oil Durand Cup against the Kerala Blasters FC (KBFC) on Friday, September 09, 2022, as the firm favourite, but it will be up against a dangerous, talented and young Blasters side, capable of turning the tables on the best in Indian football on its day.
The winner on Friday takes on the winner of the third quarter-final between Mumbai City FC and Chennaiyin FC, which is scheduled for Sunday.
MDSC might have a few of advantages for the fixture being played at home with home fan advantage. For one, it knows the conditions better and has also played some of its group games at the VYBK. Secondly, it has not had to travel, like the Blasters have from Guwahati and so will be relatively fresher.
MDSC will also be on a high, given that they have qualified as the group topper from Group A, which also had the likes of Bengaluru FC in it, besides defending champion FC Goa.
It won three out of four matches with ease and were also the better side against Bengaluru for most of the game, leading for the longest time before going down to 10-men and settling for a draw. Its Trinidadian talisman Marcus Joseph has not only been scoring, but has turned out to be a lethal creator this year which bodes well.
“Marcus is an important player. But this year he has slightly changed his playing style which is good for the team but he is still a dangerous player in our squad. I, as a coach, always stay hungry,”said MDSC head coach Andrey Chernyshov.
“It's going to be a tough game but we are ready. There will be some changes tomorrow because of injury and cards, but that's football and we have to be ready for all situations,” he added
Kerala Blasters, on the other hand, has qualified as the second team from Group D behind Odisha FC.
Kerala lost to Odisha FC but held out for a good draw against Sudeva FC and then beat NorthEast United FC, before stunning Army Green for a place in the last eight. It is a side brimming with young talent in all positions.
The terrible twins up front, Md. Aimen and Md. Azhar are a handful with the former striking three times in the tournament so far, to be currently among the top scorers. Md. Ajsal is also a talented centre-forward and then they have the highly proficient Tejas Krishna at the back with captain Sachin Suresh as safe as a house under the Blasters bar.
To add to this, one of the goals of the tournament has been scored by its talented left-wing back Aritra Das and Vibin Mohanan, an India age-group international, has been marshalling resources from midfield with aplomb.
“We are hungry to do good here. The motivation for tomorrow’s match will be that we are going to play against a good team of the I-League. Our team will be ready to show their talent. The supporters who are going to come and support us, I just want to say that we are going to give our 100%,” KBFC head coach Tomasz Tchorz said.