Kerala would face Hyderabad in the Sunday night clash of Indian Football League 2020-21 to find the first victory of the season. Two-time runner-ups are sitting in the bottom three, while, Hyderabad are 6-points ahead of Kerala and had just one defeat this season.
Match Timings: Dec 27, 7:30 PM IST
For the second straight year, Kerala is under-performing in the Indian Football League. The yellow outfit has picked up just three points from the first six matches in 2020-21 and remains winless in this season. In the previous game, they held East Bengal for a 1-1 draw but it was an average performance. Bengal attackers missed out some easy chances, thanks to brilliant goalkeeping from Albino Gomes. In the first half, Kerala offered a lead to East Bengal with an own goal from Bakary Kone. East Bengal dominated the entire first half and Kerala failed to create any opportunity. The attacking trio Anthony Pilkington, Jacques Maghoma, and Mohammad Rafique put pressure on Kerala’s defense.
Kerala’s defense was too open despite the Costa Nhamoinesu’s strong backline. Maghoma created two chances and once he succeeds. At the second time, Albino Gomes brilliantly saved a strike set up by Maghoma and Anthony Pilkington. Nishu Kumar and Carneiro were not strong in the defense and gave clear chances to Red and Golds. Nishu’s performance was below average as he lost the ball as many as 24 times. In the second half, Kerala fought hard to get an equaliser.
Jeakson Singh, Sahal Abdul Samad, and Jordan Murray were introduced as the substitutes in the second half and it worked out. Sahal Abdul Samad set up a good cross to Jeakson Singh and the Indian substitute sent the ball past Debjit Majumder. Murray was also great in the field. He almost got a goal but it was denied by Debjit Majumder’s brilliant save. The trio may start in the first half after this stunning show in the final minutes.
Meanwhile, Hyderabad suffered its first defeat of the season against leaders, Mumbai. Sergio Lobero’s men continued its six-match unbeaten run. Vignesh Dakshinamurthy started the scoring for the Islanders in the 38th minute and they doubled the lead in the 59th minute through another Fondre strike with Rowllin Borges’ assistance. The first half between the two sides was a treat for Football fans as the defense of both clubs canceled each other out. Nizams put pressure on Mumbai’s defense but Islanders managed to survive the final few minutes before the first-half whistle. Things didn’t change for Hyderabad and Mumbai got easy three points with Fondre’s 5thgoal of the season. Hyderabad could have changed this game if Yasir had the goal in the first half. Akash Mishra provided a beautiful cross to Mohammad Yasir to equalize but he missed the sitter from five yards.
Both sides locked horns twice in this competition and each side has one win. In the first-leg, Hyderabad had the final laugh with 2-1 and in the most recent clash in January this year, Kerala thrashed the Nizams 5-1. The current scenario put Hyderabad on top this Sunday and Kerala would have to play its best game to stop Nizams. Hyderabad have a good opportunity to enter the top four.
Possible Lineups & Current Form
Lineup: Subrata Paul; Asish Rai, Odei Onaindia, Chinglensana Singh, Akash Mishra; Joao Victor, Hitesh Sharma, Mohammed Yasir; Nikhil Poojary, Halicharan Narzary, Aridane Santana
Current form:L W D D D
Previous match:1-0 defeat against Mumbai
Lineup: Albino Gomes, Nishu Kumar, Bakary Kone, Costa Nhamoinesu (C), Jessel Carneiro, Seityasen Singh, Rohit Kumar, Vicente Gomez, Rahul KP, Facundo Pereyra, Gary Hooper
Current form:D L L D D
Previous match:1-1 draw with East Bengal
4 goals in Indian Football League 2020-21
2 assists & 14 tackles In Indian Football League 2020-21
1 goal & 1 assist in Indian Football League 2020-21
1 goal & 13 tackles in Indian Football League 2020-21