Hyderabad vs Kerala, Indian Football League 2020-21, Match Preview

Hyderabad will play Kerala in Indian Football League tonight to retain the spot in top-four. Nizams shared the spoils with Bengal in the last outing, while Kerala played a 2-2 draw with Odisha. 

Match Timings: Feb 16, 7:30 PM IST 

Team Preview 

With three more games in hand, Hyderabad kept them in the hunt for the playoffs. The recent success of Northeast made the playoffs race interesting, and Nizams cannot drop points tonight. Hyderabad avoided a defeat against Bengal with a late injury-time strike. After a goalless first half, Bengal took the lead in the 59th minute through Bright Enobakhare’s strike. Hyderabad were heading towards a defeat, and Bengal couldn’t hold them when Gold and Reds conceded an equaliser in injury-time. In the second minute of injury-time, Fran Sandaza set up a good chance for Aridane Santana, and the Hyderabad skipper scored from point-blank range into an empty net. Mohammed Yasir got a red card in injury-time for a high challenge on Angousana. 

Nizams were consistent in top-four, but they moved to fifth after this draw. Hyderabad are now leveled with Goa on 24 points and two-points behind Northeast. The first two spots are clear as Mumbai and Mariners both have secured their spots in the playoffs. For the remaining two spots, Goa and Northeast are the main contenders with Hyderabad. Nizams cannot ignore Blues, who are just two points behind Hyderabad. The equation is pretty clear for the Nizams, and they have to look for three points in the next three games. They are unbeaten since December 30, and the winning streak reached 9 matches. Out of nine matches, they played six draws and won three. When they met each other last time, Kerala kept a clean-sheet and walked away with full three points. 

Meanwhile, Kerala are out of the playoff contention, and they now have 16 points from 17 matches. For the second successive year, the Yellow Outfit missed out the playoffs. Kerala’s all hopes faded away when they played a draw with the season’s weakest side. In both matches, Kerala dropped points against Odisha. Kerala had the upper hand in the start, but Odisha scored just before the half-time break. Kerala dominated the second half, and Jordan Murray scored the equalizer in the 55th minute. Kerala then took the lead in the 69th minute when Gary Hooper sent the ball into the net. Kibu Vicuna allowed Jeakson Singh to play as a center-back, and this strategy backfired. Five minutes later, Diego Mauricio scored another goal to complete a brace, and Odisha equalised. Kerala can blame themselves for their first-half mistakes. Jordan Murray, Gary Hooper, and Gomez were guilty of missing easy chances. The defense is a big concern for Kerala as they have conceded 29 goals this season, the highest in the Indian Football League 2020-21.

Possible Lineups & Current Form 

Hyderabad 

Laxmikant Kattimani, Ashish Rai, Akash Mishra, Odei Onaindia, Chinglensana Singh, Joao Victor, Hitesh Sharma, Fran Sandaza, Joel Chianese, Aridane Santana 

Current Form: D D W D D 

Previous Match: 1-1 draw with Bengal 

Kerala 

Albino Gomes (GK), Costa Nhamoinesu, Denechandra Meitei, Sandeep Singh, Jeakson Singh, Sahal Abdul Samad, Vicente Gomez, Juande Lopez, Rahul KP, Jordan Murray, Gary Hooper

Current Form: D L L D D 

Previous Match: 2-2 draw with Odisha 

Key Players 

Hyderabad 

Aridane Santana 

8 goals in Indian Football League 2020-21 

Joel Chianese 

4 goals in Indian Football League 2020-21 

Kerala 

Jordan Murray 

7 goals in Indian Football League 2020-21 

Gary Hooper 

4 goals in Indian Football League 2020-21