Kerala Blasters and Bengaluru FC lock horns in the curtain-raiser of the 2023-24 edition of the Indian Super League on Thursday, September 21, at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium in Kochi.
The rivalry between these two sides was exacerbated by a controversial 1-0 win for Bengaluru FC in the knockout round last season, with Blasters head coach Ivan Vukomanovic calling his team off the field and forfeiting the match.
The two sets of fans have been at loggerheads since, and this should be a fiercely contested and feisty contest.
The home side will be without coach Vukomanovic, who's serving a suspension for the above-mentioned incident. They'll also be without the services of Rahul KP and Bryce Miranda, who are representing India in the 2023 Asian Games. Similarly, Bengaluru FC will miss Sunil Chhetri and Rohit Danu for the same reason.
Kerala Blasters vs Bengaluru FC: Squads to choose from
Kerala Blasters FC
Goalkeepers: Karanjit Singh, Lara Sharma, Mohd. Arbaz, and Sachin Suresh.
Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Milos Drincic, Marko Leskovic, Ruivah Hormipam, Prabir Das, Sandeep Singh, N Huidrom-Singh, and Aibanbha Dohling.
Midfielders: Adrian Luna, Danish Farooq-Bhat, Jeakson Singh, Freddy Lallawmawma, Mohammed Azhar, Sukham Meitei, Vibin Mohanan, Bryce Miranda, Nihal Sudeesh, and Saurav Mandal.
Forwards: Daisuke Sakai, Dimitris Diamantakos, Ishan Pandita, Rahul KP, Bidyashagar Singh, Kwame Peprah, and Mohammed Aimen.
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Vikram Singh, Amrit Gope, and Sahil Poonia.
Defenders: Jessel Carneiro, Naorem Roshan-Singh, Parag Satish Srivas, Aleksandar Jovanovic-II, Slavko Damjanovic, Namgyal Bhutia, and Robin Yadav.
Midfielders: Ryan Williams, Shankar Sampingraj, Francisco Javi-Hernandez, Halicharan Narzary, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Keziah Veendorp, Lalremtluanga Fanai, Shreyas Ketkar, Rohit Kumar, Harsh Shailesh Patre, Monirul Molla, Ashish Jha, Ankith Padmanabhan.
Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Rohit Danu, Sivasakthi Narayanan, and Curtis Main.
Kerala Blasters vs Bengaluru FC: Predicted playing XIs
Kerala Blasters FC
Lara Sharma (GK), Pritam Kotal, Ruivah Hormipam, Milos Drincic, Aibanbha Dohling, Jeakson Singh, Adrian Luna, Danish Farooq, Daisuke Sakai, Kwame Peprah, and Ishan Pandita.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Parag Shrivas, Aleksandar Jovanovic, Namgyal Bhutia, Naorem Roshan Singh, Rohit Kumar, Suresh Singh, Javi Hernandez, Halicharan Narzary, Ryan Williams, and Curtis Main.
Kerala Blasters vs Bengaluru FC: Match details
Match: Kerala Blasters FC vs Bengaluru FC
Date: September 21, 2023; 8:00 pm IST
Venue: Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium, Kochi.
Kerala Blasters vs Bengaluru FC: Dream11 fantasy suggestions
Both sides have plenty of new faces in their ranks and with some key names missing, we're likely to be surprised when the lineups come out. How the teams will set up tactically is a puzzle, with the Blasters likely to stick with a 4-4-2 formation, albeit without their manager on the touchline, while Bengaluru FC could move to a four-man backline.
The home advantage will be huge for the Blasters in what should be a very tight contest, but the visitors look a more settled and stronger side on paper. Adrian Luna, Halicharan Narzary, and Javi Hernandez will be the key players, and new signings Curtis Main and Daisuke Sakai are the attackers to watch out for.
This should be a game filled with goals as neither defence looks solid, so three-at-the-back looks like the right strategy for this one.
Adrian Luna, Curtis Main, Javi Hernandez, and Kwame Peprah are the top captaincy prospects.
Fantasy Suggestion #1: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Pritam Kotal, Aibanbha Dohling, Aleksandar Jovanovic-II, Halicharan Narzary, Ryan Williams, Javi Hernandez, Adrian Luna, Curtis Main, Daisuke Sakai, and Kwame Peprah.
Captain: Javi Hernandez. Vice-captain: Adrian Luna.
Fantasy Suggestion #2: Lara Sharma, Parag Shrivas, Naorem Roshan Singh, Aleksandar Jovanovic-II, Ruivah Hormipam, Halicharan Narzary, Jeakson Singh, Javi Hernandez, Adrian Luna, Danish Farooq, and Curtis Main.
Captain: Adrian Luna. Vice-captain: Curtis Main.