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Kerala Blasters FC

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ISL: Kerala’s hopes hanging by a thread after Pune defeat

Kochi, Dec 8: Kerala Blasters FC’s dry run at home in the Indian Super League (ISL) continued but this time it got worse as they were handed a 1-0 defeat by FC Pune City at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Friday.

Kerala have been winless at home this season and have not picked up full points since their opening round win against ATK.

Fans have been hoping there would be a turnaround but instead it were Pune City who registered only their second win of the campaign.

The only goal of the match came in the 20th minute from Marcelinho. The win takes Pune to eighth spot and are now only a point off Kerala who remain a spot above. Blasters are winless in 10 games now.

After a nervy start, the match sprang to life in the seventh minute when Robin Singh placed the ball on a platter for Marcelinho off Nim Dorjee Tamang’s forward pass.

With Anas Edathodika dragged out of position, the Brazilian forward charged into space and had just the goalkeeper to beat from inside the box. Dheeraj Singh closed down the angle and pulled off a terrific reflex save to deny Pune an early lead.

Kerala threatened at the other end a minute later. After a crisp interchange of passes between Sahal Samad and Courage Pekuson on the edge of the box, the latter picked out Slavisa Stojanovic’s run behind the defence with a delightful lob which the striker failed to connect with his outstretched right leg.

The visitors opened the scoring in the 20th minute through a deflected effort from Marcelinho. Ashique Kuruniyan cut inside from the left flank and fed the forward with a through-ball into the box.

Marcelinho’s shot took a wicked deflection off Anas’ legs and found the bottom right corner.

Kerala saw a lot of the ball for the rest of the half as they battled to find an equaliser. However, Pune’s defence looked unusually solid as they kept the home side at bay.

The home side upped the ante after the restart and restricted the visitors to efforts from outside the box. One such shot by Marko Stankovic, however, flew inches wide of the post in the 59th minute.

The ever-present Sahal went close from Zakeer’s corner-kick a few minutes later. The delivery was headed just wide at the near post by the Kerala-born youngster.

Kerala had made a habit of getting equalisers late in the game but this time, it was not to be as Kamaljit Singh came up with a splendid save off a Jhingan header, while Vineeth hit the post to cap off a frustrating night for David James’ side.

ISL: Incredible NorthEast bury Kerala at the death
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ISL: Incredible NorthEast bury Kerala at the death

Guwahati, Nov 23: NorthEast United FC scripted a stirring late comeback to stun Kerala Blasters FC 2-1 in a thrilling Indian Super League (ISL) encounter at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium here on Friday.

After a goalless first half, Matej Poplatnik scored in the 73rd minute to hand Kerala the lead. However, a late Bartholomew Ogbeche penalty (90+3′) and an even later winner from Juan Cruz Mascia (90+6′) sealed all three points for the Highlanders.

NorthEast United’s first win on home soil sees them rise to third on the table with 14 points from seven matches, while Kerala remain at the seventh spot with seven points from eight matches.

The hosts took control of the match early on and knocked on the doors of the Kerala defence.

In the 10th minute, a Federico Gallego corner-kick that wasn’t properly cleared by Poplatnik at the near-post fell to Ogbeche whose free header was brilliantly saved by Dheeraj Singh in the goal.

At the other end, Halicharan Narzary managed to beat his marker on the left flank and picked out an unmarked Seiminlen Doungel in the centre of the box but the Indian forward headed glaringly wide.

NorthEast United centre-back Mislav Komorski was next in line to send a free header wide, this time from Lalthathanga Khawlhring’s cross.

Kerala came close to scoring against the run of play before the break. Narzary beat Robert Lalthlamuana in the box and chipped the ball over an onrushing Pawan Kumar but the woodwork denied the Indian forward.

After the change of ends, Kerala Blasters brought on C.K. Vineeth at the hour-mark as David James sought a spark in the attacking third and the go-to player almost delivered a few minutes after taking the field.

The forward received the ball on the edge of the box and unleashed a dipping shot that missed the target by inches.

Kerala finally broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute through Zakeer Mundampara’s corner-kick. The midfielder’s delivery to the near post was headed into the net by Poplatnik who had drifted away from his marker.

The Highlanders tried to mount a response by pouring men forward. Ogbeche won the ball in midfield and after a neat give-and-go with Nikhil Kadam at the edge of the box, tried to curl the ball into the net but Nemanja Lakic-Pesic kept Kerala in the lead with a timely block.

Just as it seemed like Kerala would get all three points, Sandesh Jhingan barged into Mascia inside the area and conceded a penalty. Ogbeche stepped up and converted the spot-kick to level the scores.

However, there was still more drama three minutes later as a loose ball inside the box fell to Mascia who lashed a volley in to stun the visitors and claim all three points.

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ISL: Kerala stay alive after 1-0 win over NE United

Guwahati, Feb 18: Kerala Blasters FC kept their playoff hopes alive, collecting the crucial three points after beating a depleted NorthEast United FC 1-0 in their final home game at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium here on Saturday.

Last year’s runners-up Kerala, who have scored in their last 13 games in a row, the longest run by a team in the ISL, gained an early lead in the 28th minute when former Manchester United player Wesley Brown successfully headed a corner past the NorthEast keeper.

Plagued by the loss of key foreign recruits like Portugese skipper José Gonçalves, Brazilian midfielder Marcinho, Guinea-Bissauan centre-back Sambinha and ex-Benfica star Helio Pinto to injuries, the hosts could only afford to play the party spoilers after struggling the whole season.

This was the fourth consecutive loss for the Highlanders, who have failed to score in 10 of their 15 matches and Saturday’s display was no different — creating opportunities and missing goals.

It was as early as the 10th minute when Brazilian striker Danilo Cezario failed to generate enough power to put Swedish Maic Sema’s pass past the Kerala goalkeeper Rachubka.

The hosts could have made matters worse for them in the 20th minute when Nirmal Chettri failed to defend an attempt from Kerala’s Jackichand into the net and instead hit it towards his own goal. But thanks to NorthEast keeper Rehenesh Paramba’s brilliant save, there was no damage and the first half ended 0-1 in favour of the visitors.

Coming back, NE United came close to equalising in the 72nd minute when midfielder Lalrindika Ralte fired one from the left only to find the crossbar before the ball came back to him. His next attempt went straight into the hands of the goalkeeper.

The tourists, whose fans outnumbered the vociferous NorthEast supporters, played the waiting game in the later half and managed to shield their lead even after four minutes of extra time was taken.

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ISL: FC Goa put Kerala Blasters to the sword

Kochi, Jan 22: FC Goa put an end to Kerala Blasters FC’s resurgence as they handed them their second successive defeat in the Hero Indian Super League.

With David James replacing Rene Meulensteen, Kerala had secured seven points from his first three games in charge, as much as Meulensteen in his seven games.

However, the loss against Jamshedpur FC in the last game was followed by another 1-2 defeat at the hands of FC Goa at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Sunday.

Ferran Corominas scored his 10th goal of the season in the seventh minute while another Spaniard, Edu Bedia, secured the winner in the 77th minute after C.K. Vineeth had drawn his team level in the 29th minute.

The win gave FC Goa 19 points from 10 matches but they continue to be placed fourth on the Hero ISL table.

The Goans however have a match in hand and can move to the top of the table if they can defeat Mumbai City FC in their next match at home on the coming Sunday.

As expected, FC Goa started with attacking intentions and made it clear in the fourth minute when Manuel Lanzarote’s shot from outside the box almost resulted in a stunning goal. The ball, however, struck the post and rebounded.

Kerala, however, were not lucky three minutes later when Goa struck with a classic team goal.

A through ball from Brandon Fernandes for Mandar Rao Desai saw the winger cut it back for Corominas, and the highest goal scorer did well to hold on to it, look up and then shoot past the goalkeeper and defender Sandesh Jhingan on the goalline.

Kerala were subdued and did not trouble the Goa defence.

Siam Hanghal was the first to have a good look at the rival goal and his attempt from outside the danger zone struck the crossbar before sailing out. That encouraged Kerala Blasters and they had the equaliser soon.

It was Vineeth who provided the breakthrough in the 29th minute.

A goal kick from Laxmikant Kattimani saw defender Wes Brown head it into the path of Hanghal who flicked it for Vineeth.

The Kerala sharpshooter easily finished by hooking the ball into the top corner past an onrushing Kattimani.

In the second session, there were not too many chances for either team.

Vineeth tried an ambitious overhead kick which sailed wide and another attempt from him went straight to the keeper.

For Goa, Lanzarote’s free kick was off target and so was Mandar’s shot from the left.

However, with Goa enjoying so much of ball possession, opportunity would always be there.

That chance came in the 77th minute when Brandon Fernandes whipped in a corner which Edu Bedia glanced home in the header across the goalkeeper into the far post for the winner.

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ISL: Jamshedpur snap Kerala’s unbeaten run

Jamshedpur, Jan 18: Jamshedpur FC snapped Kerala Blasters FC’s three-game unbeaten run with a 2-1 victory in an Indian Super League (ISL) encounter at the JRD Tata Sports Complex here on Wednesday.

Jerry Mawhmingthanga (1st minute) and veteran striker Ashim Biswas (31st) scored first-half goals to ensure the hosts got back to winning ways after going down 1-2 to FC Goa in their previous match.

The visitors netted a consolation goal in second-half stoppage time through substitute Mark Sifneos (90+1).

This was Jamshedpur’s first win at home.

Courtesy the result, Jamshedpur moved a rung from eighth place to seventh with 13 points from 10 games while Kerala remained sixth with 14 points from 11 outings.

The hosts were at it from the word go with Jerry scoring the fastest goal of the tournament within the first 27 seconds.

Biswas’ initial attempt did not have enough power and fell to Jerry who pounced on the ball to slot home the Kerala goalkeeper and leave the visitors shell-shocked.

Kerala had their best chance to level things in the 21st minute but striker Iain Hume’s header was cleared off the line by Jamshedpur defender Raju Yumnam.

The home team then doubled their advantage one minute past the half-hour mark through Biswas who made the most off a melee inside the penalty area to get his name on the scoresheet.

Bikash Jairu’s initial cross was not met by Jerry and Kerala defender Sandesh Jhinghan failed to clear the danger leading to Biswas poking the ball in.

The second half remained barren with Kerala trying hard to break Jamshedpur’s defence but lacking teeth up front.

Kerala did score a late goal when substitute Mark Sifneos — who replaced Hume in the 78th minute — headed in from close but it was too little too late.

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Match Preview: ISL – Kerala challenge for Jamshedpur FC

Jamshedpur, Jan 16: Kerala Blasters FC will look to continue their good run against Jamshedpur FC when the two sides meet in an Indian Super League (ISL) tie here on Wednesday.

The Blasters, fresh from their fighting 1-0 away win over Mumbai City FC, are also riding high on the form of striker Iain Hume who is back among the goals after struggling for playing time under former head coach Rene Muelensteen.

The return of David James as head coach has also seen the Blasters revert to a more direct system and it will be interesting to see how Jamshedpur’s miserly defence handles the pressure at home.

It should also be a fiery game, with Jamshedpur’s grit formulated on the same base that their head coach Steve Coppell once gave Kerala Blasters in the past.

That said, Coppell was clear to speak his mind that it would take a higher level of refereeing decisions to see that the game did not end controversially.

“I think the referees haven’t been up to the mark on the evidence of their displays so far. They have been found wanting and there have been a lot of games which have been decided on big decisions and later proved to be questionable. I am in favour of video review and every game is televised with 10 odd cameras and why don’t we use this technology – it is being used in England and generally it has been a positive,” he said.

At the same time, he was sympathetic towards referees, saying they were under pressure and deserved the video evidence support.

As for the game itself, Coppell said that there has been significant impact since David James joined as coach.

“The preparation we would make for this team three weeks ago is different from the preparation we are making for them for tomorrow’s game. It’s also a game we are desperate to win,” he said.

Coppell’s words are backed by the mathematical equation – if Jamshedpur lose, the gap between them and the top four will be at least four points or more.

James, who hasn’t yet lost in his return to Kerala (one draw and two wins), sounded confident with his side’s form, but also realises that the games his side have won have kept him on the edge.

“The wins were vital. 1-0 is my favourite scoreline because it keeps you on the edge but the match against Mumbai was physically and mentally draining. But confidence is high and we look forward to the match,” he said.

“It’s difficult to predict the side, but there is a lot of energy in Jamshedpur and we expect an energetic match.”

James also acknowledged that his side had too much quality to be languishing in the bottom half. But whether this quality will come up trumps against Jamshedpur is an entirely different story.

 

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ISL: Kerala striker Hume’s hat-trick overwhelms Delhi

New Delhi, Jan 11: Iain Hume’s hat-trick powered Kerala Blasters FC to a 3-1 victory over Delhi Dynamos as they jumped to the sixth spot in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Wednesday.

Following the win, their second in nine matches, takes Kerala to 11 points as they leapfrogged defending champions ATK (9) and debutant Jamshedpur (10) on the ISL points table.

For bottom-placed Delhi Dynamos, it was their seventh loss of the campaign. They continued to languish at the bottom of the table with only four points from nine matches.

Hume struck first in the first session to give his team the lead, only for Pritam Kotal to equalise just before half time.

In the second session, Hume struck form as he completed his hat-trick with goals in the 78th and 83rd minute

David James, who took over as the head coach of Kerala after Rene Meulensteen parted ways with club, saw his side open the scoring 12 minutes into the game. Courage Pekuson broke down the left to get past Kotal inside the box and set it up for Hume, who slotted the ball home.

Things were going well Kerala but in the 40th minute star forward Dimtiri Berbatov had to come off due to what looked like a hamstring injury.

And just before half time, Kotal levelled the scores for the hosts. The right back was unmarked at the far post from a Romeo Fernandes free kick and he rose to guide the ball into the net.

After the restart, Delhi showed more impetus going forward. Lallianzuala Chhangte put in a few good balls into the box for the Delhi forwards to take advantage of.

But it was Hume who gave his side the lead again in the 77th minute. After taking the ball from a throw in, he charged into the box taking on defenders before slotting the ball past the Delhi keeper.

Ten minutes before full time, Hume settled the tie with a third on the night. A Mark Sifneos through ball put Hume through on goal, and the Canadian international lifted the ball over the onrushing keeper to complete his hat-trick.

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Bengaluru beat Kerala in ISL tie

Kochi (Kerala),Jan1: Bengaluru FC defeated Kerala Blasters FC 3-1 in an Indian Super League (ISL) match here on Sunday.

Sunil Chettri (60th minute) converted a penalty at the hour mark to open Bengaluru’s account. Nicolás Ladislao Fedor Flores (90+3, 90+4) struck twice in the second half added time to round off the tally.

Courage Pekuson (90+6) managed a consolation goal for Kerala.

Bengaluru thus rose three spots to third on the league table with 15 points from eight matches.

They are on the same number of points as FC Pune City, but trail them on goal difference. League leaders Chennaiyin FC are on 16 points.

Kerala remain at the eighth spot on the 10-team table with seven points from seven matches.

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ISL: Off-colour Kerala Blasters take on Bengaluru

Kochi, Dec 30: Amidst big fan support for both the sides, off-colour Kerala Blasters FC will here on Sunday take on Bengaluru FC in a contest that has been billed as the third Southern Derby of the Indian Super League (ISL) season four.

As it stands, every game has become crucial so both teams would be hoping to get a right result but there is a little bit of pride at stake here.

Acknowledging the importance of the game, Kerala Blasters coach René Meulensteen said: “Well, we have to treat this match as one with a little bit of a special edge. It has a derby feel to it. That’s good. I have heard the fans talk about it so we are looking forward to the game.”

For Bengaluru, a win will take them to the second spot in the league standings with 15 points. On the other hand, Meulensteen’s side will be searching for only their second win of the season.

Last season’s runners-up, Kerala Blasters have found it hard to get going this time around in the ISL so far. With just one win and four draws from their six games, they have only picked up seven points and are placed eighth.

Injuries to key players has also not helped Kerala’s cause. The availability of star striker Dimitar Berbatov for Sunday’s is still in question.

Commenting on Berbatov’s fitness, Meulensteen said: “He has got a good day’s training behind him. But we’ll still have to assess him. So let us see.”

Kerala’s opponents, Bengaluru FC, have also suffered a dip in form recently after making a fast start in their debut ISL season.

Albert Roca’s side has lost two successive games, and a trip to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kaloor on Sunday to play in front of the roaring ‘Yellow Army’ is going to be a daunting task.

Bengaluru FC assistant coach Naushad Moosa, who attended the pre-match press conference in place of Roca, told reporters that his side’s recent losses have been due to the competition getting tougher.

“If you see what happened is that we started quite early. We started in July. We had the AFC Cup and other commitments which were good for us. The other teams have now started to gel and that’s making it difficult. Also, we have been playing a lot of games away from home. The competition has become tougher,” he said.

Moosa also said the game against Kerala is going to be a very tough one for his side. “They are playing good and the crowds will also play a role.”

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ISL: Kerala Blasters defeat 10-man NorthEast United by slender margin

Kochi, Dec 16: Kerala Blasters FC huffed and puffed their way to 1-0 victory over 10-man NorthEast United FC for their first win in the Indian Super League (ISL) season four at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Friday.

CK Vineeth, returning from suspension, scored the lone goal of the match in the 24th minute as Kerala Blasters maintained their record of never losing to NorthEast United in four years.

The hosts were in an advantageous position for the entire second session as NorthEast goalkeeper T.P. Rehenesh was sent off with a straight red card in the 43rd minute.

NorthEast could never recover from that blow, although they could not be faulted for lack of effort.

Although Vineeth got the goal that mattered, the hero of the match was debutant Wes Brown. The former Manchester United defender played his first match for Kerala Blasters and showed what they were missing all along. His solid performance in front of the back four was the key to Kerala’s first win this season.

It was NorthEast though who started stronger and with some good fortune could have even taken the lead. Striker Marcinho was a constant threat for the visitors and struck a good understanding with Martin Diaz.

Kerala calmed nerves for the hosts in the 24th minute with a gem of a strike from star man Vineeth. Captain Sandesh Jhingan released Rino Anto on the right with a long ball and Anto, with plenty of space ahead of him, made a superb run forward. He then played an inch-perfect cross inside the NorthEast goalmouth where Vineeth stunned everyone with a flying header.

There was a way back for the visitors but they needed to keep calm. In the 43rd minute, the match took a dramatic turn when Rehenesh was red-carded. From a quick counter-attack, the inspirational Courage Pekuson picked out Mark Sifneos with a through ball and goalkeeper Rehenesh mistimed his jump, catching Sifneos’s legs, instead of the ball.

Once the referee flashed the red card at Rehenesh, they were left with a mountain to climb. With the numerical advantage, Kerala always enjoyed the upper hand and it was the upright that thwarted them in the 57th minute when Lalruatthara’s close-range shot seemed good enough for the second goal.

NorthEast had to rely mostly on counter attacks and they came close to securing an unlikely equaliser with just three minutes left to be played. A corner-kick from substitute Odair Fortes saw Danilo Lopes rise high to head, but the ball sailed agonisingly wide with nobody on hand to tap it him.

The final minutes of the match saw Kerala Blasters clearing off the ball to maintain their lead and NorthEast United pushing hard for an equaliser but their efforts going in vain.