Updated: December 25, 2022 11:09 p.m IST
Kochi (Kerala) [India]Dec 25 (ANI): A Boxing Day encounter pits Kerala Blasters FC against Odisha FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Monday.
The Blasters will be looking to level things up this time as Odisha FC came from a goal down to take all three points in the reverse fixture earlier in the season. After ATK Mohun Bagan’s loss to NorthEast United FC on Saturday, a clean sheet from any of these teams would put them in third place; currently, the two teams are tied for fifth and sixth, according to an ISL press release.
Since the end of October, Blasters have played six games, winning five and drawing one. That tie came last week against Chennaiyin FC. Sahal Abdul Samad scored his third goal of the season before Marina Machans fought back and both sides had to settle for a point.
The midfielder has now contributed five goals in ten games. Ahead of him, in the striker role, Dimitrios Diamantakos has scored five goals in ten games so far, just two goals behind the league’s top scorer Abdenasser El Khayati. Adrian Luna made an impressive start in the last game and has also contributed five goals to his name.
“I think it’s one of the most important games of the season because both sides are tied on points. We’ve been playing good football lately and so have they,” said assistant coach Ishfaq Ahmed. “We respect them and their coach, but for us it’s a game on home soil. The support of the fans and the home advantage tilts the balance in our favor,” he added.
Odisha FC were building strong momentum before their short-lived victory was ended by FC Goa two weeks ago, after which ATK Mohun Bagan were held to their first goalless draw of the ISL season. The Juggernauts have not scored in consecutive games for the first time this season.
After scoring four goals in nine games, Nandhkumar Sekar is the club’s top scorer this season. The winger served his suspension in the last match and will be against the Blasters. Josep Gombau will have to decide again if he wants to start ahead of Diego Mauricio or Pedro Martin.
“It is a very good game to play against a very good team in Kerala [Blasters]. At the moment, we are tied on points and playing outside in a nice atmosphere,” said Gomabau. “Every player and coach wants to participate in a game like this. Besides, it’s the day after Christmas and I think getting a good result will be the best gift for all our fans and families,” he added.
Including the dramatic reverse fixture earlier this year, the two sides have played each other 19 times in the ISL. Both sides have won six matches, and seven matches have ended in a draw. The Juggernauts have never beaten the Blasters in their own backyard. (ANI)