Kochi, Feb 28 (IANS) Kerala Blasters FC will hope to sign out with a win in front of their home fans as they face NorthEast United FC in their concluding match of the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, here on Friday.
Kerala Blasters have had a forgettable season, going 14 matches without a win after their opening day victory against ATK, a run they recently ended with a 3-0 win against Chennaiyin FC at home.
NorthEast United have already sealed their place in the play-offs, having earned 28 points from 17 matches. But with Mumbai City on 30 points playing their last game the following day, the Highlanders can put pressure on the Islanders and move up the table.
Eelco Schattorie had to shuffle the team quite a bit this season due to lack of depth in the squad, injuries and suspensions.
“At this moment we have five injuries. Today we had only 18 players on the field. Of those, two are suspended and that leaves us (with) 16. Of those, three have three yellow cards that means I cannot play them, because that’s a risk going into the play-offs. Of the remaining 13, four have not played this season and lack match fitness,” Schattorie said.
Schattorie said goalkeepers TP Rehenesh and Pawan Kumar are injured, apart from Rupert Nongrum and Provat Lakra. Jose Leudo will miss out after picking up a red card in their last game, a 1-1 draw against Pune.
Schattorie has been left with no choice but to field a weak team against Blasters, which have already made it to play-offs. Bengaluru FC fielded their reserves against Jamshedpur FC and were thrashed 5-1 after taking the lead on Wednesday. Schattorie would have seen that and would not want to spoil the mood after taking NorthEast to play-offs for the first time in their history.
For Kerala, the ISL season was over a long time ago, although coach Vingada will need this win to boost the morale ahead of the Super Cup later this month. It might seem all over but there is still plenty to play for.