According to the team officials, around 35,000 tickets have been sold until Wednesday for their opening match against FC Goa on Thursday. Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium can hold a capacity crowd of 60,000.
FC Goa come in to the game with a 2-1 victory over Delhi Dynamos, while Kerala Blasters tasted defeat in their last match against against Mumbai City FC. Both teams have four points each in five games. FC Goa are at bottom of the table and Kerala Blasters at seventh with a better goal difference.
Canadian International Iain Hume has been a revelation for Kerala Blasters scoring two of the four goals for them, but he has received a very little support form others. CS Sabeeth, Milagres Gonsalves and Andrew Barisic have to lift their game up for the Kerala Blasters to start winning the games. Cedric Hengbart has been fantastic in the defence for Kerala.
Michael Chopra out with a hamstring injury in the previous two games might feature against Goa. Centre-back Mehtab Hossain suffering a head-injury and might miss the game. It has to be seen whether Sandip Nandy, who replaced James in the goalkeeping role in previous match will continue or James will come back in this match.
FC Goa’s Robert Pires will be coming back from a two-game suspension for getting into a scuffle with Atletico de Kolkata manager, Antonio Lopez Habas. Gregory Arnolin and Andre Santos are doubtful for the game after both suffered injuries in the last game against Mumbai City.
The visitors will hope that the hero of their previous match, Australian Tolgay Ozbey shines again for them. Youness Bengelloun could play a major role in defence for Goa.
David James, Player-Manager of Kerala Blaster said:
“We want to win every game but we also know that to win the league you need to pick up points which we have done in the away leg and now we have the home games and hopefully that will help get us to the knock outs.”
“We need to get into our rhythm and start scoring so as much as I want clean sheets and I also want us to score more goals.”
FC Goa manager Zico said in the pre match press conference;
“Firstly it is important that he (Pires) has returned because he is a great player and a great professional; but I thought that it was unfair he was banned in the first place”
“I think our problem is not the defence as we are losing way too many opportunities forward and we have created many opportunities during our games. I think our defence is doing very well and I actually do not have any problem with them and I trust my defence to do their job,”
“We need to be very cautious about the way we approach this game because now they (Kerala Blasters) are playing at home.”
• This is the first home game for Kerala Blaster in the Indian Super League after playing five away games.
• Kerala Blasters manager David James has used 20 players in his starting elevens in the last five matches.
Kerala Blasters: LWDLL
FC Goa: WLLDL
Possible starting lineups:
Kerala Blasters: David James; N. Chetri, A. Bag, J. McAllister, C. Hengbart; M. Hossain, P. Orji, S. Pearson, C. Sabeeth, A. Barisic, I. Hume
FC Goa: J. Seda; D. Roy, N. Das, Bruno Pinheiro, G. Arnolin, Y. Bengelloun, G. Fernandes, Robert Pires, P. Carvalho, C. Miranda, T. Ozbey
Kerala Blasters 2 – 1 FC Goa
Picture Courtesy: Indian Super League