Kerala Blasters FC and Odisha FC played out a 0-0 draw in front of 20,107 spectators at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi. It was a balanced game of football with both teams enjoying an equal share of possession at the end of the game.
The game was marred by unfortunate events from the very beginning. Kerala captain Jairo Rodrigues pulled his hamstring in the 2nd minute. Twenty minutes later strikers of both the teams, Messi Bouli and Aridane Santana, collided trying to attack the ball from an Odisha corner. Santana came off much worse and was carried out off the field by an ambulance.
Poor refereeing continued to ruin the sixth edition of the Indian Super League (ISL). Sahal Abdul Samad weaved magic outside the Odisha box, showcased his silky skills and quick feet with the ball and stormed past three defenders to be finally brought down by Narayan Das. The referee turned down a huge appeal by Kerala players for what seemed like a clear cut penalty.
Kerala seemed to take hold of the game in the dying minutes of the first half. Josep Gombau sensing the situation made a tactical change by bringing on striker Daniel Lalhlimpuia for Rana Gharami, the 29-year-old centre-back.
The second half started on a slow note. Both the teams failed to trouble their counter-parts. The first real chance of the match fell to Nandhakumar Sekar of Odisha. Jerry Mawihmingthanga, the highest assist provider of ISL 2019-20 along with Brandon Fernandes of Goa, produced a pitch-perfect cross for Nandhakumar to volley it into the side-netting. Odisha scored the most number of goals from crosses this season but they failed to add on to the statistics this time.
Odisha tried to affect the result of the game with shots from outside of the box but the shots were way off target and failed to change the outcome of the match.
Eelco Schattorie brought on Bartholomew Ogbeche, who was suffering from food poisoning, in the 78th minute, with the hope of claiming all three points in front of the home crowd. The best chance of the game came through Ogbeche’s failed header. Prasanth Karuthadathkuni floated in a cross for Ogbeche who failed to connect the header properly. The ball fell to the path of Rahul KP, whose beamer of a shot was brilliantly saved by Francisco Dorronsoro.
Both the teams adopted possession-based football, played passes among themselves to build the attack but could not produce the end result. The match ended with one shot on target from both the teams, which indicates the nature of the game.
Kerala came off much worse at the end of the game. They now sit at sixth position with four points from the same number of matches. What adds to the Blasters’s owes is that their four foreign signings suffering from an injury. The international break couldn’t have come at a better time for The Tuskers who now have ample time to welcome back fully fit Ogbeche before the next match.