Kerala Blasters vs East Bengal: Preview and Prediction

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Kerala Blasters need only 2 more points to make it to the playoffs

Matchday 20 of the 2023-24 Indian Super League season will end with Kerala Blasters taking on East Bengal at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi. The two sides, who have both been guilty of dropping points on multiple occasions throughout the season, will be facing off on Wednesday from 7:30 PM IST.

The home team has been ravaged with injuries throughout the season but their form in the first half of the tournament has put them into a very advantageous position in terms of qualifying for the playoffs. 

In fact, the Blasters only need 2 more points to secure their spot in the knockouts – and a win against the Torchbearers at home will ensure they do that. They currently have 30 points from 19 games but have failed to secure a victory in their last 3 games as their last triumph in the league was a thrilling 4-2 win over Goa in Kochi on 25th February.

East Bengal has not fared much better either in terms of recent form. The Kolkata-based side is 11th in the league standings with 18 points from 19 games so far. Victory has eluded them since their 1-0 win over Chennaiyin at home on 26th February as they faced three successive losses including a thrashing in the Kolkata Derby. 

Head coach Carles Cuadrat has found it hard to rally his troops following their 2024 Kalinga Super Cup win in January, with key exits in the winter transfer window and injuries causing his side to pick up only 7 points from the 27 on offer since. Their poor form has also cost them dearly in the race for the final playoff spot which is currently occupied by Bengaluru who sit 4 points and 5 places above them.

Current Form

Kerala Blasters come into the clash having secured a 1-1 draw away from home to Jamshedpur. It was a game of missed opportunities for them, as Rahul KP and Emmanuel Justine both let good chances escape. 

Had it not been for their Greek striker Dimitrios Diamantakos stepping up with his 13th goal of the season, it would have been another loss for Ivan Vukamanovic’s men.

East Bengal returns to action after almost 3 weeks, with their last clash being the 1-3 humbling they suffered at the hands of Mohun Bagan Super Giant in the Kolkata Derby on 10th March. 

The Mariners, namely Jason Cummings, Liston Colaco and Dimi Petratos ripped them open in the first half and Saul Crespo managed to get on the scoresheet in the second half for the Bengal Brigade but it proved to be too little too late as the Torchbearers stumbled to yet another loss.

Head to Head Record

The two sides have faced each other 7 times, with Kerala Blasters bagging 3 wins and East Bengal having only 1 win to their name.

In the league’s reverse fixture, the Blasters eked out a 2-1 win away from home thanks to Daisuke Sakai and Dimitrios Diamantakos finding the back of the net. For East Bengal, captain Cleiton Silva scored a late consolation goal in Kolkata in the 99th minute.

Team News

Cleiton Silva’s dip in form is a major source of concern for East Bengal

For Kerala Blasters, defender Milos Drincic will miss out on account of picking up 4 yellow cards in the league. Ruivah Hormipam, Mohammed Azhar, Sandeep Singh, Dimitrios Diamantakos and Pritam Kotal are all on 3 yellow cards and need to keep themselves in check to avoid suspension.

For the Bengal Brigade, defender Mohamad Rakip will be available for selection after sitting out the last clash as he had picked up 4 yellow cards. Forward Nandhakumar Sekar has been ruled out of the fixture after suffering a minor injury in the international break. Goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Gill has accrued 3 yellow cards and he needs to be wary of not picking up another booking in the subsequent fixtures.

Predicted Starting XIs

Kerala Blasters (4-4-2): Karanjit Singh; Sandeep Singh, Pritam Kotal, Marko Leskovic, Prabir Das; Rahul KP, Vibin Mohanan, Jeakson Singh, Daisuke Sakai; Fedor Černych, Dimitrios Diamantakos

East Bengal(4-2-3-1): Prabhsukhan Singh Gill; Lalchungnunga, Aleksandar Pantić, Hijazi Maher, Nishu Kumar; Souvik Chakrabarti, Ajay Chhetri; Naorem Mahesh Singh, Saúl Crespo, Sayan Banerjee; Cleiton Silva 


Kerala Blasters at home are always a force to reckon with and it will be no different this time around. With guaranteed qualification also on the horizon, Vukamanovic will be keen to ensure no hiccups. 

For East Bengal, the odds are heavily against them – both for the win in Kochi and their chances of making it to the sixth playoff spot. There is little doubt that the Bengal Brigade would need to play out of their skin to bag the points on offer.