Another draw as Kerala Blasters and Odisha fail to score
Kochi: Odisha FC and Kerala Blasters FC continued to struggle in front of the goal as an eventful match between the two ended 0-0 at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium here on Friday.
The match was marred by injuries and lackluster finishing. Chances were few and far in between and neither team could take advantage of any. The result puts Odisha in fifth spot just ahead of Kerala courtesy of better goal difference. Both teams have four points from as many matches.
The first half was plagued by injuries as three players had to be substituted. First to go was Kerala captain Jairo Rodrigues who pulled a hamstring after stretching too much in an effort to control the ball inside five minutes. He was replaced by Abdul Hakku.
In the 23rd minute, strikers Messi Bouli and Aridane Santana went down in the box trying to attack the ball from a corner. It was a clash of heads and an ambulance arrived on the ground. Both were stretchered off the pitch. Messi Bouli was on his feet after reaching the ambulance and was escorted out.
Mohammed Rafi came in for Messi Bouli while Carlos Delgado came in for Aridane Santana. Loss of their leading strikers clearly derailed the plans of both teams and it was evident on the pitch. Kerala were already lacking the service of their star striker Bartholomew Ogbeche, who was seemingly suffering from food infection.
In the 35th minute, Blasters had a penalty appeal turned down. Sahal Abdul Samad worked some magic after receiving the ball on the right flank. He cut in from the right and weaved his way into the box beating three defendershe was faced by Rana Gharami and Narayan Das. Sahal threaded the ball through the gap between the two defenders but Narayan Das tripped him.
Sahal, his teammates and coach appealed for a penalty but the referee turned it down. The referee’s view could have been blocked but it was as clear a penalty as it could get.
In the second half, both Kerala and Odisha created some chances but the goal never came.
Blasters had another shout for a penalty in the 67th minute. Prasanth Karuthadathkuni tried to cross the ball from the right flank and it was blocked by Narayan Das. The ball hit the Odisha man’s his knee and then his forearm before going out for a corner. Prasanth appealed to the referee and linesman for handball and a penalty but both officials were unmoved.
In the 78th minute, Eelco Schattorie brought in Ogbeche for Rafi in a last ditch effort to break the deadlock. Francisco Dorronsoro brilliantly saved Rahul KP’s shot from close range in the 86th minute and it was the last meaningful moment in the match.
Neither side would be happy with the solitary point but more importantly, losing key players to injury could trouble them more in the coming games as well.