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Kerala eye win in final ISL tie against weakened NorthEast

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Press Trust of India Kochi
Kerala Blasters FC will hope to sign out with a win in front of their home fans as they face NorthEast United FC in their concluding match of the Indian Super League here Friday.
Kerala Blasters have had a forgettable season, going 14 matches without a win after their opening day victory against ATK, a run they recently ended with a 3-0 win against Chennaiyin FC at home.
"Tomorrow it is important to play a good game and win the last game. NorthEast United club means a lot to me because they gave me the first chance to come to India in 2016. I would like to congratulate them for making it to the play-offs," said Kerala Blasters head coach Nelo Vingada.
NorthEast United have already sealed their place in the play-offs, having earned 28 points from 17 matches. But with Mumbai City, who are on 30 points, playing their last game the following day, the Highlanders can put pressure on the Islanders and move up the table.
Eelco Schattorie has had to shuffle his first team quite a bit this season due to a lack of depth in the squad, injuries and suspensions.
"At this moment we have five injuries. Today we just had 18 players on the field. Out of those two are suspended that leaves us (with) 16. Out of those, three have three yellow cards that means I cannot play them, because that's a risk going into the play-offs," said Schattorie.
"Out of the remaining 13 players, four of them have never played this season so they lack match fitness," the Dutchman revealed.
Schattorie said goalkeepers TP Rehenesh and Pawan Kumar are injured, apart from Rupert Nongrum and Provat Lakra. Jose Leudo will miss out after picking up a red card in their last game, a 1-1 draw against Pune.
Schattorie has been left with no choice but to field a weakened team against Blasters, having already made it to the play-offs.
For Kerala, the ISL season was over a long time ago, although coach Vingada will need to secure this win and boost the morale ahead of the Super Cup later this month.

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First Published: Feb 28 2019 | 6:36 PM IST

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