Kerala Blasters FC can’t afford to drop points if they are to qualify for the semi-finals, when they take on Chennaiyin FC in a crucial 2021-22 Indian Super League (ISL) clash at the Tilak Maidan Stadium, here on Saturday.
Kerala lost to league leaders Hyderabad in their last outing, remaining in fifth place with 27 points from 17 games. Mumbai City FC are fourth with 28 in their kitty, and the Islanders take on FC Goa on Saturday in a late kickoff, meaning Kerala would want to keep them on their toes with a victory earlier in the day.
Hyderabad are already through to the semis, making it a fight for the remaining three spots. Jamshedpur FC have an advantage as they are seated second with 31 points, but with two games in hand.
“We are creating chances and we are working hard. But luck is an important factor for football and we have to deserve luck in the upcoming matches,” Kerala Blasters head coach Ivan Vukomanovic said on the eve of the game.
Alvaro Vazquez has been in top form and showed his class once again, in the second half against Hyderabad.
Nishu Kumar and Jeakson Singh are doubtful for Saturday, coach Vukomanovic said. Jorge Pereyra Díaz was not available for the last game as he was serving a one-match suspension, and the coach said they are still awaiting his verdict.
“We will see them in training today and make a decision. We will not take any risk and I don’t like losing players at this stage of the season. So we will be careful,” he said.
For Chennaiyin, the season is over in terms of pushing for a semi-final spot but the Sabir Pasha-coached side have the pride to play for.
Chennaiyin are in the middle of a winless run that has seen them not win any of their last six games. The club have two draws and four losses in their last six games and they would want to get back to winning ways and finish the season on a high.
Their defensive issues have been found out in the last 6 games; the club have conceded at least 2 goals a game in 5 of their last 6 games.
“It’s all about motivation as it’s the end of the season and everybody is in a different mood. But every match is a competition and as professionals, we are putting a point to do better in the upcoming matches,” said Pasha.