Kochi: Kerala Blasters will come today to secure the play-off berth in the ninth season of Indian Super League football. The match will be played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
The rivals are North East United who are at the bottom of the table. Mumbai City and Hyderabad secured four places left for the playoffs. Six teams, including the Blasters, have potential. Blasters, who have lost two matches in a row, can keep their hopes alive if they win today. Blasters, who went to the away ground unbeaten in eight consecutive matches, suffered losses against Mumbai and Goa.
Coach Ivan Vukumanovic has hinted that Marko Leskovic will play after regaining his fitness. After the suspension, K.P. Rahul will also return. Dimitrios Diamantakos, Blasters’ top scorer of the season with a goal in the last match, will lead the charge along with Adrian Luna.
Every game is crucial. “There are always teams who want to play their best game against Blasters, especially when they play in Kochi,” Vukomanovic said. He added that the right approach will be taken for the remaining six matches. The bottom-placed North East won just one game in the season. The North Eastern team is winless in 18 away matches. Their last away win was against East Bengal FC in February 2021. Highlanders will try to end this poor record today. But the absence of top scorer Wilmer Gill will be a setback for the team. The Colombian striker was sent off after seeing a red card against Mumbai City. Jozba Beitia, who is new to the team, will be on the field instead. North East coach Vincenzo Anise said that Beitia knows Indian football and I-League very well and hopes that he can perform well in ISL as well. In the reverse fixture, Blasters won by three goals.
In yesterday’s matches, Bangalore and ATK Mohun Bagan also won. Bengaluru beat Chennai 3-1 and ATK. They also beat Odisha FC by 2-0. Sivashakti Narayanan scored a brace for Bengaluru. Rohit Kumar scored a goal. Edwin Wanspoel scored a goal for Chennai. Bengaluru is at the sixth position with 22 points from 16 games and Chennaiyin is at the eighth position with 17 points from 15 games.
Dimitri Petrotos scored two goals for ATK against Odisha. In the injury time of the second half, ATK’s Malayali player Ashiq Karunian was sent off after seeing a red card. ATK scored 27 points from 15 games. 3rd place. Odisha is seventh with 22 points.