India is all set to witness its first ever pre-season friendly tournament, and a couple of big football clubs are about to set foot on an Indian pitch.
Indian Super League side Kerala Blasters, who have finished runners-up twice in the league's four-season history, will have the opportunity to play against these top foreign sides, as the Toyota Yaris La Liga World tour gets underway in Kochi.
First, the Blasters are set to face off against Australian A-League side Melbourne City FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, tonight. Here, let's take a look at how the two teams could line up.
The Blasters have retained their former goalkeeper David James as their manager this season, and the Englishman will be looking to make some amends in his first full season in charge of the Kochi-based club after taking over mid-way last season at the club.
Armed with a few new signings like India's teenage sensation Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem, centreback Anas Edathodika, wingers Halicharan Narzary and Len Doungel, and foreign forwards Slavisa Stojanovic and Matej Poplatnik.
Dheeraj's first match for a senior team will be a moment that many Indian football fans will be anticipating after the young goalkeeper impressed in the FIFA U17 World Cup last season, followed by a stint at Scotland's Motherwell FC.
CK Vineeth is on the recovery route from an injury, but the popular forward is expected to start for the Blasters.
Kerala Blasters Predicted XI (4-4-1-1): Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem; Lalthakima, Sandesh Jhingan, Anas Edathodika, Lalruatthara; Courage Pekuson, Keziron Kizito, Deependra Singh Negi, Seiminlen Doungel; CK Vineeth; Slavisa Stojanovic.
Melbourne City FC
Meanwhile, Melbourne have all their players available, as they head into their first match on Indian soil. Captain Scott Jamieson will be a crucial influence from the left-back position, while 27-year-old Osama Malik will be crucial in stopping the Kerala forwards.
However, it is the midfield, where Melbourne will look to inflict the damage, with the presence of the experienced Luke Brattan. Promising midfielder Riley McGree, who is on-loan from Belgian club Brugge, is expected to partner him in the middle of the park.
Melbourne City FC Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Dean Bouzanis; Scott Jamieson, Bart Shenkeveld, Osama Malik, Nathaniel Atkinson; Luke Brattan, Riley McGree; Lachlan Wales, Dario Vidosic, Michael O'Halloran; Moudi Najjar.
Kerala Blasters 1-1 Melbourne City FC
We can expect a closely fought match between two teams that are clearly in pre-season mode. Hence a draw could very well be within Kerala Blasters' grasp in this match.Published 24 Jul 2018, 18:27 IST