ISL 2019: Kerala Blasters vs Odisha FC - Talking Points

Kerala Blasters' mounting injury problems, Sahal Abdul Samad's individual brilliance and the other talking points from the 0-0 draw against Odisha FC.

Odisha FC's forwards failed to make the most of their chances while defence was lucky to get away with two fouls inside the box.   -  ISL Media

Kerala Blasters had two penalty decisions turned away while suffered two big injuries to an bulging injury list as it settled for a 0-0 draw against Odisha FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Friday. The goalless draw in Kochi took Kerala to sixth in the standings behind Odisha which went to fifth in the Indian Super League table.

Sportstar looks at the major talking points from the chaotic clash in Kochi.

Unlucky Blasters denied two penalties

The referee blame-game managers play after an unfavorable result has become a common sight in football, but the officiating in Friday's match calls for a better refereeing standards in India. In the 35th minute, Kerala's Sahal Abdul Samad went on a dizzying run from the right taking out four Odisha players only to be brought down inside the box by Narayan Das' outstretched leg. The referee had a good view of the tackle from behind but remained unmoved despite Das' reckless tackle.

 

In the 68th minute, Mohamad Rakip cut in from the left flank and hit a low cross which hit Das' boot before hitting his shoulder and running away for a corner. Though the hand ball was not intentional, the linesman, who had the best view of the incident, could have spotted it easily.

Mounting injury concerns

In his post-match interaction, Blasters coach Eelco Schattorie revealed that centre-back Jairo Rodrigues had been playing with discomfort in his leg for the past three matches, while star forward Bartholomew Ogbeche was dehydrated on matchday due to food poisoning. Kerala came into the game with a long injury list and an ailing bench.

Jairo's legs gave away three minutes into the match while Ogbeche was not at his best after coming on in the 78th minute. A frustrating drizzle on a humid evening further complicated things for the players who struggled for pace.

However, the biggest concern for Schattorie is the head injury to Raphael Messi Bouli, who was rushed to a hospital following a nasty collision with Odisha striker Aridane Santana. The mountain of injuries will have Schattorie call for an emergency meeting with his medical staff.

Odisha's profligacy hurting its cause

Odisha huffed and puffed but could never make the best of its opportunities. The wing play was shambolic as Nandhakumar Sekar was guilty of delaying his crosses which led to his teammates being flagged offside quite often and getting their positioning wrong. Odisha's best chance also fell to the winger when Jerry Mawihmingthanga floated a pin-point cross at the far post which Nandhakumar smashed into the side-netting.

Substitutes Martin Guedes and Daniel Lalhlimpuia also failed to bring dynamism to the attack while the visitor's set-piece play was far from good despite winning five corners.

Responsible Sahal yet to find rhythm

Sahal's inclusion in the starting XI was much debated as there were doubts over his effectiveness this season. The 22-year-old's participation from the start proved to be a good move as Kerala's attack looked livelier with him up front. His pace and trickery caused Odisha multiple problems as he shouldered the attacking responsibility in Ogbeche's absence.

 

With his brilliant run, which unfortunately was not awarded a penalty, the forward made a strong case for a starting spot.

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