Indian Super League, Round 18
Hyderabad FC face Kerala Blasters FC on Tuesday in a massive game, going into the final leg of the campaign. Ahead of this clash, we take a look at the squads, the opponents, the key men, and more…
Round 7: Kerala Blasters FC 2-0 Hyderabad FC (Abdul Hakku 29’, Jordan Murray 88’)
Dec 27, GMC Stadium, Bambolim
Hyderabad FC suffered their second defeat of the campaign as they fell to a 2-0 loss after Kerala Blasters FC’s Hakku and Murray struck in either half to bring the side’s first victory of the season. Kibu Vicuna’s men pressed the HFC backline in search of a breakthrough which came just before the half-hour mark after Hakku headed the ball into the goal from a Facundo Pereyra corner.
Although Hyderabad started the second half with more grit and pushed Kerala on the backfoot for a significant period of time, they failed to create enough clear chances to get back into the game. Despite Hyderabad’s persistent attempts for the equalizer, an instinctive finish from Murray in the 88th minute sealed the victory for the Blasters on the night.
Securing their first win seven games into the season, Kerala Blasters had a rocky start to their campaign in the Indian Super League. After a patch of mixed results, Kerala are now winless in five games. Since the sides last met, the Yellow Army have signed Spanish defensive midfielder Juande Lopez as a replacement for an injured Sergio Cidoncha. Hyderabad will miss the presence of Mohammad Yasir in the middle of the park after he received a red card for a rash tackle against SC East Bengal on Friday.
Sitting at the tenth position on the league table, anything less than a win takes KBFC completely out of the equation for qualification which means the side will come into the game with a determined mindset.
Following a late comeback that resulted in the side holding East Bengal to a draw after being 1-0 down, Hyderabad FC will come into the game with a sense of optimism and confidence. Despite the display of resilience that saved Manolo’s side from dropping points, Hyderabad will be looking for the crucial victory to secure their position in the top-4 as other teams are inching closer in the business end of the tournament.
Jordan Murray (KBFC)
With six goals to his name, the Australian forward has been one of the most impactful players for KBFC this season. Having scored in the game against Odisha FC on Thursday, Murray will be high on confidence, going into this game. Additionally, the fact that he scored the last time the sides met will only add to his confidence. Murray’s well-positioned runs, precise crosses, instinctive finishing and tireless work in the attacking third could trouble the Hyderabad backline on Tuesday.
Rahul KP (KBFC)
Full of trickery and pace, the 20-year-old midfielder has been a menace in the opponent’s box on several occasions. HFC’s defence needs to be wary of his forward runs, inch-perfect deliveries, powerful strikes and versatility around the field. The youngster could work in tandem with Jordan Murray and Facundo Pereyra to add pressure in the Hyderabad half.
Costa Nhamoinesu (KBFC)
Standing tall in the back for his side, Costa works as an obstacle to the opposition attack in the final third. He could be instrumental in negating HFC’s attacking threats with his man-marking ability, crucial blocks, and effective clearances. As a result of his burly physique and strength in the air, he could be the one marking Aridane Santana in the KBFC half. Showing impressive statistics in attack despite being a defender, Costa’s two goals indicate that he could be an all-round threat for Hyderabad on Tuesday.
Aridane Santana (HFC)
With the late goal against SC East Bengal on Friday, the Hyderabad skipper became the club’s highest goalscorer which could put him in an inspired mindset with a desire to create an impact against KBFC on Tuesday. The Spaniard could test Kerala’s backline through his positioning, dedicated pressing in the attacking third, accurate distribution of the ball, aerial prowess and effective finishing abilities. The KBFC defenders will also keep a watch on Santana’s partnership with Fran Sandaza and Halicharan Narzary in the final third.
Joao Victor (HFC)
Producing consistent and impactful shifts in the centre of the park, the Brazilian has been a key presence in the Hyderabad midfield this season. With great passing accuracy, strength in possession battles, defence-splitting crosses and threatening shots on goal, Joao will aim to control the midfield and eliminate or reduce Kerala’s attacking threats before they reach the final third. His collaboration with players at various positions shows his ability to regulate the ball effectively and will be essential to Hyderabad’s performance on Tuesday.
Laxmikant Kattimani (HFC)
Keeping four of the club’s six clean sheets, Kattimani has been an instrumental and reassuring presence in the side’s resilient defensive work this season. He will aim to thwart any attacking movements from Kibu Vicuna’s men with the help of his acrobatic saves, timely clearances, and quick ball distribution. He has been confident in going up against strikers; and will work in partnership with HFC’s consistent backline to put up a strong defensive performance against the Blasters.