Kochi: Kerala Blasters FC will look to arrest their slide when they play hosts to Odisha FC on Friday evening at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium here in a round four fixture of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL).
After the glorious victory against their arch rivals ATK on the opening night of the season, the Kochi-based team has lost their way and have suffered back-to-back defeats against Mumbai City and Hyderabad FC.
The onus will be on coach Eelco Schattorie to come up with a robust plan to ensure the team returns to winning ways on home soil. Memories from last season, where Kerala went on a 14-game winless run after their win over ATK in the opening match is still fresh in the minds.
Meanwhile, Odisha FC’s form graph has been in stark contrast to that of Kerala Blasters. After starting with two defeats, Odisha thumped Mumbai City 4-2 in their previous match and come into this game on a high.
They will look to build on that performance by trying to best an injury-riddled Kerala. The likes of Mario Arques and Gianni Zuiverloon are unlikely to be fit while Sandesh Jhingan was ruled out for the season earlier.
But what would concern Kerala is that they haven’t been able to create many goal-scoring opportunities for star striker Bartholomew Ogbeche, with the likes of Sahal Abdul Samad still adapting to coach Schattorie’s style of play.
Odisha’s defence has not been water-tight either and are yet to keep a cleansheet, conceding six goals in three games. They also tend to leak in goals in the final 10 minutes, having done so in all their games so far.
Could Blasters be able to exploit this weakness and arrest the repeat of last season? A win for either of the club would be a crucial psychological factor before heading into the international football break.