Coming off big defeats, both NorthEast United FC and Kerala Blasters would look to open their account and get their campaign up and running when they face off in the Indian Super League (ISL) here on Thursday. While the Khalid Jamil-coached NorthEast United conceded four goals against an experienced Bengaluru FC, Kerala Blasters too lost by a 2-4 margin to last edition’s runners-up ATK Mohun Bagan in their opener.
Kerala Blasters’ pre-season performances provided hope but they found the going too tough against a strong and thoroughly professional ATK Mohun Bagan. At the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Thursday, the southerners will get another opportunity to impress and open their account in this edition of the league. It is not going to be easy though against the Highlanders who fought hard against a fancied Bengaluru FC outfit.
The team from the eastern part of the country came back twice to level things in the first half, but the lack of concentration and inexperience at the back cost them dear, as they leaked four goals. Jamil will be looking to get his tactics and match-ups right, as NorthEast United look to bounce back with a positive result against the Blasters. The Blasters too showed a lack of composure and proper defensive abilities in their tournament opener. The Kochi-based team didn’t start off well, but produced a mature performance in the second half.
However, that was not enough for the Blasters to upstage ATK Mohun Bagan, and head coach Ivan Vukomanović will be expecting a lot more from his wards who they go up against the Highlanders.
This will be the 15th meeting between the two sides in eight seasons. Of the last 14 matches, Kerala Blasters have won five, NorthEast United have emerged victorious on four occasions while five matches have ended in a draw.
The last time these two teams came up against each other, Jamil’s side ran out 2-0 winners.