The Kerala Blasters will play Chennaiyin at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Saturday, 15th February in the ISL. Kick-off is scheduled for 4 pm IST. This is Kerala’s last home game of the season, so they will want to end what has been a mixed campaign on a high note. They are likely to finish 8th in the table, following a season that has never really taken off for them.
Certainly, they would have been hoping for more when they enticed manager Eelco Schatorie from NorthEast United in the close season who brought striker Bartholomew Ogbeche with him. Ogbeche has got his fair share of goals – 11 to his name in the league so far- but it is at the other end of the pitch that their problems lie. A record of 27 goals conceded is not good enough for a team that
wants to be challenging near the top of the table.
Their recent run of results has been a microcosm of their season. First, they pulled off a major surprise by winning away at league leaders ATK, but then they lost their next three, away to Jamshedpur and Goa, and at home to Chennaiyin. Again goals were not their problem – they scored two in both of their away games, and three at home to Chennaiyin. Unfortunately, they shipped three to Jamshedpur and Goa and were hit for six by Chennaiyin. And then, after all that excitement, they played out a lacklustre goalless draw away to NorthEast
Although Bengaluru has not mathematically qualified for the play-offs yet, to all intent and purpose it is now done. In fact, they still have an outside chance to top the table at the end of the regular season, although it is out of their hands, and would require both ATK and Goa to suffer a late collapse.
Instead, they have time to refine their team and tactics ahead of the knock-out stages, especially when it comes to their misfiring attack. Only the bottom two sides, Northeast and Hyderabad, have cored less this season. Conversely, they have the meanest defence in the league – just nine goals conceded all season and none in their last three games.
Kerala will be boosted for this match by the return to the bench of Schattorie, who has now served his ban imposed for his role in various touchline incidents in the clash with ATK. However, despite his presence, his time has little left to play for in this match. Bengaluru still have much to play for this season, and that extra motivation, combined with their solid defence, should be enough for them to