ISL 2019-20: Jamshedpur FC challenge for out-of-form Kerala Blasters

The Blasters will hope to end its winless run on Friday; top spot will be up for grabs for Jamshedpur FC.

Jamshedpur FC’s Tiri trains with team-mates ahead of their visit to Kochi. Photo: ISL Media

Kerala Blasters will hope to snap its six-match winless run when it takes on Jamshedpur FC in an Indian Super League match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Friday.

With three draws and three losses in six games, the Blasters find themselves languishing in the eighth position in the points table. A win for fourth-placed Jamshedpur FC can lift it to the top of the table.

Both teams come into this contest having played out two consecutive draws.

Late goals

Late goals have been hurting Kerala this season; the team looked on course for victory against FC Goa and Mumbai City FC, but concede late goals to draw. Given the fact that Jamshedpur FC has scored four of its nine goals in the final 15 minutes of its contests, Eelco Schattorie’s side will be concerned.

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“That (conceding late goals) has to do with the quality that you have in the team. One of the first things in team meetings at my previous clubs, one thing I keep repeating is that there has to be a mindset to have double alertness,” said Schattorie.

“Last week we had some mismatch during set-pieces. You have to find a solution, in this case, I tell my players to be a bit smarter, a bit meaner, to be street-smart,” Schattorie said.

Slow start

Though Raphael Bouli has shone in attack of late, the absence of Bartholomew Ogbeche will weaken the team’s frontline which hasn’t been prolific. The Blasters have scored just six goals so far — the second-lowest in the league. The return of influential midfielder Mario Arques will be a relief for Schattorie, though it is unsure if he will be fit enough to start.

Jamshedpur FC, on the other hand, has shown fighting spirit and tactical flexibility in plenty so far. The team loves having the ball but is equally deadly on the counter, thanks to the pace it has on the wings. The likes of Farukh Chowdhury, C. K. Vineeth and Aniket Jadhav have all impressed down the wings.

Gearing up: Sahal Abdul Samad trains ahead of the contest. Photo: ISL Media

 

Also, head coach Iriondo has a knack of getting his substitutions to work. This season, substitutes have helped Jamshedpur FC win crucial points when losing or have given it the lead when things were at a stalemate on numerous occasions. However, the absence of star striker Sergio Castel and midfielder Piti is bound to affect the team’s gameplan and come as a relief of sorts to Kerala.

Unlucky Kerala

“I don’t know how Kerala’s winless run is going to affect the team but Kerala are a good team. They have not been lucky in the first part of the season due to factors like injuries. They try to play football, they have a good style. In this kind of short leagues, you don’t have too much time,” said Iriondo.

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“Maybe Sergio and Piti were important for the team. Maybe if they were in the team, it would be different. We are missing them a bit now,” he said.

Kerala Blasters has never beaten Jamshedpur in four encounters between the two so far. The team has won only two out of its last 10 home games.

Match begins at 7.30 pm.

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