Kerala Blasters was just seconds away from three points in its last match but it ended in a 2-2 draw, with Joni Kauko netting that equaliser for ATK Mohun Bagan.
That means the men from Kochi remain fourth as the battles for the semifinal slots intensify. After that close encounter, they are up against another strong rival on Tuesday at Bamoblim’s GMC Athletic Stadium, where they come face to face with table-topper Hyderabad FC, which has 32 points but has played a game more than Jamshedpur FC (31) and ATK Mohun Bagan (30).
Blasters is on 27 points. In this business end of the tournament, Ivan Vukomanovic’s boys will be looking to score every point that they could.
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And they would once again be banking on the remarkable skills of their Uruguayan midfielder Adrian Luna, who has probably been the player of the ISL thus far this season. He had scored both the goals against ATK Mohun Bagan, and both were beauties.
If there is one player that has come close to him when it comes to influencing a team’s performance, it is Hyderabad’s Bartholomew Ogbeche, the leading scorer in ISL’s history and this season.
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Coach Manolo Marquez must be hoping that the Nigerian could add on to his tally of 16 goals (from 16 games). “The season has been fantastic for Hyderabad FC,” he said. “(But) Kerala’s offensive players are brilliant.”
The Blasters coach acknowledged that Hyderabad was the best team in the competition. “I expect a tough game,” he said. “We’ll try to test something different.”