High-flying North East take on Kerala in the Thursday encounter of Indian Football League 2020-21. Kerala lost their season opener against Mohun B. 1-0, and on the other hand, North East surprised Mumbai in their opening fixture with a second-half penalty.
Kerala and North East battle out in their second game of the season in Matchday 2 of the Indian Football League. Two-times runner up, Kerala made a disappointing start with a 1-0 defeat to their arch-rivals Mohun B. After a goalless first half, Antonio Habas’s men dominated the game and created more passes. Their top-striker Roy Krishna struck the only goal of the match in the 67th minute to put Bagan ahead. Kibu Vicuña made some changes in the last few minutes, but Kerala failed to find an equaliser.
Vicuna’s first game against his former club turned out into a disappointment. Vicuna was the head coach of Mohun B in the I-League and led his side to win the title. The Yellow Army requires some spark from their I-League signing Givson Singhwas. Kerala had more possession, more passes, and better pass accuracy but converting the shots into the goal matter the most in the end.
Vicuna’s side won against Jamshedpur and Hyderabad in their pre-season affairs, following a 3-1 defeat to E. Bengal. Gary Hopper also has the big responsibility to deliver for Kerala. The main forward netted two goals in the pre-season, and he had a tremendous season with Wellington in A-League last season.
Meanwhile, North East are bumped up after a stunning start to 2020-21. The former Crystal Palace striker Appiah scored the winner in the second half, and Gerard Nus’ men outclassed Mumbai's strong side. The Highlanders broke their 14-matches losing streak with a clinical win in Tilak Maidan. They continued their pre-season form with Nus, where they remained unbeaten in two games. The Gold Outfit would aim to get three more points to take the top spot in the table. Under the new head coach, the positive start is a big relaxing sign for North East. The Highlanders would also expect a boosting start from the full-back Ashutosh Mehta and I-League striker V. P. Suhair.
North East lacks the most in defense as their opponents kept eight clean sheets against them last season, and three times, they dropped the points after taking the lead. Kerala had the edge over North East in the overall head-to-head record, and the Yellow outfit lost three matches and drawn four out of 12 games. In 2019-20, both clubs appeared in two successive draws, including a goalless draw in February.
Possible Lineups & Current Form
Subhasish Roy, Gurjinder, Lambot, Wayne Vaz, Ashutosh, Camara, Lalengmawia, Gallego, Machado, Britto PM, Idrissa Sylla
Lineup: Albino, Costa, Kone, Jessel, Prashant, Sahal, Cidoncha, Vicente, Ritwik, Nong, Hooper
4 goals in League One 2019-20
1 goal in Indian Football League 2020-21
4 goals in Indian Football League 2019-20
8 goals in A-League 2019-20
2 goals in pre-season (Kerala)
3 goals in Cypriot First Division 2019-20