Highly boosted Kerala takes on strong Goa in the Saturday encounter of Indian Football League 2020-21. Kerala would look for a victory to boost its playoff hopes, while, Goa would eye to boost its third spot in the table.
Match Timings: Jan 23, 7:30 PM IST
Kerala is delivering surprises in the second half of the tournament and the previous victory against Bengaluru boosted the confidence. The tournament is in final shape and each team has 8-9 games to play in the next 5 weeks. If Kerala steps up in a positive way, Vicuna can see his side in the top four. Bengaluru took the early lead in the first half and they dominated the game from the starting. Costa Nhamoinesu got a chance for Kerala but his shot went wide. Sahal Abdul Samad took the ball from Fran Gonzalez and his mistake allowed Bengaluru defender to force a shot at Gurpreet. The first goal came from Cleiton Silva who scored his 4th goal of the season.
After the cooling break, Blues had one more goal opportunity through a free-kick but Albino Gomes saved Chhetri’s fine shot. Kerala built the momentum to find an equaliser in the second half. Gary Hooper and Sahal Abdul Samad came close in the start but Suresh Singh Wangjam denied it. Kerala equalised in the 73rd minute through a maiden strike from Puitea. Gurpreet Singh almost saved Hopper’s shot from close range but Sandeep Singh crossed the ball into the six-yard box and it helped Puitea to send the ball into the goalpost. Kerala came close to a penalty when Sandeep Singh pushed Cleiton Silva. The match was decided in the injury-time. Rahul KP scored a winner after the promising counter-attack from Kerala.
Vicuna’s brave decision was also worthy. He deployed Jeakson Singh as a center-back and allowed his player to counter Opseth's physicality. He also sent Sandeep at right-back over Nishu Kumar to counter Chhetri. This brilliant strategy worked for Kerala and now, they are only behind Jamshedpur and Bengaluru on goal difference. This game will surely change its position in the table.
Meanwhile, Goa is sitting at third in the table and they will also look for full three points to better its position on the third spot in the table. At the midway of the season, Goa picked a rhythm and they repeated the last edition’s performance. Chennai’s defeat against the Mariners has now increased the margin between the second and third spot. Gaurs look better at this stage and they are the potential contender to crack playoff qualification. In the last outing, they held 2nd placed Mariners for a 1-1 draw. They proved one more time that Goa is the best team of the season in producing comebacks. Gaurs had an early chance in the first half. Arindam Bhattacharja made an easy save when Alberto Noguera passed the ball to Alexander Romario Jesuraj for a shot. The first half ended without any goal but the better game in the final third put Habas’ men at strong position.
Mariners got the early lead through Edu Garcia who was terrific in the second half. James Donachie brought down Roy Krishna and he got a yellow card. Goa were looking for the equaliser and Juan Ferrando didn’t allow his key striker Angulo on the field. The substitute Ishan Pandita finally scored for the Gaurs to make the scoreline 1-1. Saviour Gama had a wonderful outing for Goa and no doubt, he was the star performer for the hosts. The 23-years old restricted David Williams and Prabir Das. He made four interceptions and three tackles to add depth on the left flank. Goa are 5-points behind the Mariners and 2-points ahead of fourth-placed Hyderabad.
Possible Lineups & Current Form
Albino Gomes (GK), Sandeep Singh, Costa Nhamoinesu, Juande, Denechandra Meetei, Vicente Gomez, Jeakson Singh, Sahal Abdul Samad, Rahul KP, Gary Hooper, Jordan Murray
Current form: W D W L L
Previous match: 2-1 victory against Goa
Naveen Kumar; Seriton Fernandes, Ivan Gonzalez, James Donachie, Saviour Gama, Brandon Fernandes, Alexander Romario Jesuraj, Lenny Rodrigues, Jorge Ortiz Mendoza, Edu Bedia, Alberto Noguera
Current form: D W D W W
Previous match: 1-1 draw with Mohun B.
6 goals in Indian Football League 2020-21
2 goals & 3 assists in Indian Football League 2020-21
9 goals in Indian Football League 2020-21
4 goals & 3 assists in Indian Football League 2020-21