NEROCA FC are pitted against Kerala Blasters in a Round of 16 clash of the inaugural Super Cup 2018 which will take place at Bhubaneswar on Thursday evening.
NEROCA FC v Kerala Blasters FC
Friday, April 6
8:00 PM IST (GMT +5:30)
TV CHANNELS & LIVE STREAM
The Star Sports Network have the exclusive broadcasting rights of the Super Cup. The games will be telecast with the option of English and/or Hindi commentary over their bouquet of television as well as digital platforms.
India (English) TV channel
Star Sports 2/2 HD
Hotstar and Jio TV
Key Players: Varney Kallon, Fabian Vorbe
Key Players: Wes Brown, Courage Pekuson
I-league runners-up NEROCA FC will lock horns with ISL outfit Kerala Blasters in the Round of 16 clash of the Super Cup 2018 at the Kalinga stadium in Bhubaneswar on Friday.
The Manipur-based club came mighty close to lifting the I-League title in their very maiden campaign in the top division, falling three points short ultimately to eventual champions Minerva Punjab.
Though they might not have won the title, NEROCA can boast about having the best defence in the I-League, conceding only 13 goals in their 18 matches. In that regard, Liberian central defender Varney Kallon has done a stellar job leading the back-four.
Having retained most of their overseas recruits, the Imphal club will fancy their chances against any team in the Super Cup. Big things are also expected from Australia midfielder Nick Ward who was signed towards the dying stages of their I-League campaign.
Coach Gift Raikhan has expressed the utmost confidence in his side heading into the Super Cup and they will no doubt be looking to make a mark against the ISL clubs.
On the other hand, Kerala Blasters had an ISL campaign to forget. Having started their ISL campaign disastrously under former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen, the Kochi-based outfit managed to pull themselves up into sixth place ultimately after some encouraging results under David James who was brought in mid-way through the season.
Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov has returned home after a lackluster stint but the Blasters do have the services of five overseas recruits for the tournament. Wes Brown had picked up some form towards the end of the ISL season and will be critical for James’ men's chances.
Up front, they will be hoping from a bit more from forward CK Vineeth who has blown too hot and cold in the ISL campaign.
A supremely confident Raikhan has declared that the I-League is better than the ISL. Whether his side can prove him right on Friday remains to be seen.