Kerala Blasters vs Jamshedpur: Preview and Prediction
With their head coach, Ivan Vukomanović suspended owing to their walk-out in last season’s playoff clash against Bengaluru, the Yellow Army were able to take revenge for that defeat with a 2-1 win in the inaugural game of this season.
Captain Adrian Luna had a hand in both goals, he scored the winner after playing a part in the own goal scored by Keziah Veendorp, while Curtis Main had pulled one back for the Blues.
It was a brilliant atmosphere in Kochi for the opening game of the 10th edition of ISL, and a similar turnout will be expected for the Blasters’ second home this season against the Men of Steel.
Scott Cooper’s men were held to a 0-0 draw by East Bengal in their first game of the season and he will be hoping for an improved show this week. TP Rehenesh made plenty of saves to keep his side in the game and they got lucky that the referee didn’t award the Red and Golds a penalty for a contentious handball by Pratik Chaudhari.
Following their acrimonious exit from the ISL playoffs last year, the Blasters also failed to make it into the knockouts of the Durand Cup 2023. Vukomanović’s side embarked on the Hala Blasters Tour in UAE as part of their pre-season preparations and were trounced 0-6 by Al Wasl.
Before that, they had lost to newly promoted Punjab 3-2 in a friendly. After the hefty loss in their tour, the Manjappada Army responded with a 2-1 win over Sharjah and a 2-0 triumph over Al Jazirah Al Hamra.
Bidyashagar Singh was the top scorer for them during their pre-season with seven goals while Sachin Suresh played the most minutes. Daisuke Sakai also gave plenty of glimpses of his talent in the league opener and fans would love to see more of the Japanese international.
Following a disappointing season that saw the Men of Steel finish second-bottom, they got rid of Aidy Boothroyd and hired Cooper. In came Petar Sliskovic, Semboi Haokip, Emil Benny and Alen Stevanovic among others to help kick-start to revolution.
The 2021-22 League Shield winners fielded a reserve side for the Durand Cup and failed to make it into the knockouts. Their only win came against the Indian Navy before suffering heavy defeats to Mumbai City and Mohammedan.
The Red Miners then began their pre-season with a 2-0 win over Gokulam Kerala before losing 2-1 to Sreenidi Deccan. They also lost 3-2 to Bengaluru before two back-to-back friendlies with NorthEast United resulted in a 1-0 win and a 2-2 draw. They thrashed Sikkim Akraman 10-0 and the 0-0 draw against the Red and Golds last week was a decent start to the season, but Cooper and Co. will be gunning for a first win on the road.
The Yellow Army and the Red Miners have locked horns 14 times in the league to date, the club from Kochi have claimed 4 wins while the Men of Steel have only won three times. As many as 7 meetings between these clubs have finished all square.
Vukomanović masterminded a 3-1 win back in January when these two sides met the last time, Apostolos Giannou, Dimitrios Diamantakos and Luna had cancelled out Daniel Chima Chukwu’s early goal.
The Red Miners suffered a huge blow before their season began as Sliskovic was ruled out for the season through injury. Vishal Yadav is currently on national duty with the Indian team for the Asian Games so he too will be unavailable. Apart from the aforementioned duo, Cooper will have the luxury to pick from a fully fit roster.
Rehenesh made plenty of saves and will look to keep his place in goal, Imran Khan was also very promising and so was Mohammed Sanan K who will be raring for a first start this season after making an impact coming off the bench.
Vukomavic will continue to serve his touchline ban, and assistant coaches Frank Dauwen and TG Purushothaman will be calling the shots once again. Jaushua Sotirio will be the only long-term absentee for the Blasters after the Australian forward underwent surgery on his ankle. Rahul KP and Bryce Miranda are both in China on national duty and will thus miss the fixture.
Predicted Starting XIs
Kerala Blasters (4-4-2): Sachin Suresh; Prabir Das, Pritam Kotal, Miloš Drinčić, Aibanbha Dohling; Daisuke Sakai, Jeakson Singh, Danish Farooq, Mohammed Aimen; Kwame Peprah, Adrian Luna.
Jamshedpur (3-5-2): Rehenesh TP; Pratik Chaudhari, Elsinho, PC Laldinpuia; Nikhil Barla, Jérémy Manzorro, Pronay Halder, Imran Khan Mohammed Sanan; Alen Stevanović, Daniel Chima Chukwu.
Given the recent form of both these sides, a draw should be the most likely outcome. The Red Miners are resolute in defence, and the Blasters will be expected to dominate the proceedings but they could cancel each other out.