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Indian Super League: In-form Bengaluru FC host Kerala Blasters FC

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Bengaluru (Karnataka) | March 2, 2024 9:56:48 AM IST
Bengaluru FC are set to host Kerala Blasters FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium to cap off the Saturday double header of matchweek 18 of Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 on Saturday.

The Kerala Blasters FC is upbeat after their incredible 4-2 victory against FC Goa that they produced in Kochi last week. Two goals down in the first half after three straight losses, the Yellow Army struck four times in the final 40-odd minutes to storm back to winning ways.

Placed within the top two spots for the major chunk of the opening half of the campaign, the Ivan Vukomanovic-coached side is in the fifth spot in the standings currently. They have 29 points from 16 matches, with nine victories and two draws accompanied by five losses. Their recent slump means that the first-placed Odisha FC (35) is distant by six points, though the Juggernauts (17) have played an additional game as compared to the Kochi-based outfit (16).

Contrastingly, Bengaluru FC has won twice in their previous three matches. Their last game against Hyderabad FC saw Sivasakthi Narayanan pulling off a breath-taking winner in the 87th minute to secure the crucial three points for the Blues.

Positioned ninth in the table, Bengaluru FC (18) is two points behind the sixth-placed Jamshedpur FC (20), despite both sides playing an equal number of matches so far (17). Bengaluru has won four, drawn six and lost seven matches.

*Key Players to Watch Out

Chinglensana Singh (Bengaluru FC)

The central defender is set to make his 100th ISL appearance in the forthcoming fixture. This will be the 12th time that he will square off against Kerala Blasters FC in the ISL. In 15 appearances, Chinglensana Singh has made five interceptions and blocks each, along with 13 tackles, and 40 clearances in ISL 2023-24.

The player plays an active role in the build-up of attacking moves, recording an incredible 57 passes per game at 85 per cent accuracy.

As mentioned above, getting their act together at the back is essential for Bengaluru FC in the current campaign, and Chinglensana will be crucial for the same as the Blues push for a qualification to the playoffs.

Dimitrios Diamantakos (Kerala Blasters FC)

The Greek striker has been having a stellar season on an individual level, netting 10 times and assisting thrice in 13 league appearances so far. It boils down to a goal contribution each per game, and he has shouldered additional responsibility in the absence of Adrian Luna and Kwame Peprah.

Dimitrios Diamantakos, however, does not have the best record in scoring against Bengaluru FC goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, having found the back of the net only once against the India international in the ISL.

Averaging 17 passes at 71 per cent accuracy and having created 17 goal-scoring opportunities, Diamantakos has been the engine behind the Kerala Blasters FC so far in this campaign.

*Head-to-Head

Played - 14

Bengaluru FC - 8

Kerala Blasters FC - 4

Draws - 2

*Team Talk

"Since I have arrived here, I have said that we are taking it game-by-game. At the end of the season, we will have the points that we deserve, but we cannot look too far ahead," Bengaluru FC Head coach Gerard Zaragoza said ahead of the match.

"In this league, we have seen that the position on the table does not matter. So, it is now all about the mindset and we want to have the mindset of winning every game, a mindset of wanting to stay at the top end of the table," Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic said in the pre-match press conference. (ANI)

 
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