North East United FC
Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi
4th December 2014, 19:00 IST
The group stages of the Indian Soccer League has reached its penultimate round and its an absolutely “now or never” situation for all the 8 teams. In the first game of the penultimate round, Kerala Blasters will play host to North East United at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi today. Kerala Blasters is currently placed 5th in the table with 15 points from 12 games, while North East United is at the 7th spot with 13 points from 12 matches. Thus, it’s a must win game for both sides in order to progress through to the semis.
Team News And Tactical Brief
Kerala Blasters FC
David James and Trevor James Morgan, are likely to employ a 4-1-2-3 formation. Blasters’ marquee player, James is favourite to start as the custodian for Kerala Blasters. Sandesh Jhingan is likely to start as right back. The duo of Cédric Hengbart and Gurwinder Singh is likely to start in central defense. Soumik Dey is the favourite candidate to start as left back. Mehtab Hussain is likely to play the role of a defensive midfielder in front of the back four. Stephen Pearson is likely to start on the left flank while the speedy Kashmiri, Ishfaq Ahmed is set to start on the right. The three forwards are likely to be Ian Hume, the Canadian international; the Brazillian, Pedro Gusmao and Andrew Barisic from Australia. CS David James and Trevor Morgan have a lot of options as substitutes. Skipper Penn Orji, Michael Chopra, Milagres and CS Sabeeth are also potential candidates as super-subs.
Probable Starting XI (4-1-2-3): David James, Sandesh Jhingan, Cedric Hengbert, Gurwinder Singh, Soumik Dey, Mehtab Hussain, Ishfaq Ahmed, Stephen Pearson, Andrew Barisic, Ian Hume, Pedro Gusmao.
NorthEast United FC
Ricki Herbert has played with 3 defenders in the last few matches. He is likely to continue in the same path and is likely to employ a 3-2-3-2 formation. TP Rehenesh, from Kerala has been a consistent performer for them and he is expected to start with the gloves. The 3 man defense is likely to feature Aibor Khongjee, Massamba Sambou of Senegal and their marquee player Jehan Capdevilla. Ricki Herbert is likely to use two defensive midfielders to act as screens in front of his 3-man defense. Zambian international Kondwani Mtonga and Brazillian Felipe De Castro are likely to be entrusted with these reponsibilites. Zodingliana is likely to start on the left wing with Boithang on the right. Former New Zealand international, Leo Bertos is likely to start as a central attacking midfielder. Koke and Durga Boro are likely to start up front.
Probable Starting XI (3-2-3-2): TP Rehenesh, Aiborlang Khongjee, Massamba, Capdevilla, Felipe De Castro, Kondwani Mtonga, Zodingliana, Boithang, Leo Bertos, Durga Boro, Koke.
Kerala Blasters FC 1 – 0 North East United FC
North East United has managed to win just one out of their 6 away games in the ISL so far and Kerala Blasters has lost just one home match so far. Thus going by these statistics, Kerala Blasters is looking favourite to win this match. Kerala’s Forwards Ian Hume and Pedro Gusmao are in good current form and are potential match winners for the Blasters. Skipper Penn Orji, Milagres and CS Sabeeth have also been amongst goals in the ISL. Goal scoring has been a concern for Noth East United and it will be a tough challenge for them to score against this tough Kerala defense, whose last defender is someone like David James.