Kerala Blasters FC will look to arrest its slide when it plays host to Odisha FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Friday, in a round four fixture of the Indian Super League (ISL).
Memories from last season, where Kerala went on a 14-game winless run after its success over ATK in the opening match, is still fresh in the minds. Schattorie’s side cannot afford a repeat and badly needs a win. Meanwhile, Odisha’s form graph has been in stark contrast to that of Blasters.
After starting with two defeats, Odisha thumped Mumbai City 4-2 in its previous match and comes into this game on a high. It will look to build on that performance by trying to beat an injury-riddled host. The likes of Mario Arques and Gianni Zuiverloon are unlikely to be fit, while Sandesh Jhingan was ruled out for the season earlier.
“We should have won our last game mentally. Hyderabad had only three foreigners, we had good chances. I had a revision of our three games - we had 43 crosses but how many (were) effective is another question. Our wingers are not stable and in midfield, we miss a key player. At this moment, it is all about surviving,” expressed Schattorie.
But what would concern Kerala is that it hasn’t been able to create many goal-scoring opportunities for Bartholomew Ogbeche, with the likes of Sahal Abdul Samad still adapting to Schattorie’s style of play. “In a system which has passing football, it takes a bit of time. Sahal made a mistake last game also, but we did not lose because of him. I discussed it with Sahal himself. I am very happy with the player,” insisted the Dutchman.
Odisha would have few issues in that department, however. Xisco Hernandez has been brilliant as a playmaker for Josep Gombau’s side and his partnership with Aridane Santana and Jerry Mawihmingthanga looks promising. Add the pace of Nandhakumar Sekar to the mix and the Blasters defence could be in for a testing night.
Odisha’s backline has not been water-tight either and is yet to keep a clean sheet, conceding six goals in three games. It also tends to leak in goals in the final 10 minutes, having done so in all its games so far.