Kochi: Hosts Kerala Blasters FC will be hoping to maximise their home advantage when they take on Chennaiyin FC in the opening leg of the first semifinal of the Indian Super league (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here Saturday.
But they will be up against a tough opposition who have topped the group phase of the inaugural competition with 23 points after 14 rounds of matches. Chennaiyin FC will be hoping to maintain their good showing in the business end of the tournament.
The hosts finished fourth with 19 points but were guilty of being inconsistent, which is one of the prime reasons experts have labelled them 'underdogs' in this contest.
To add to that theory, Marco Materazzi's boys defeated Kerala on both the group phase matches which will undoubtedly have a psychological impact on the players.
Kerala will be hoping to use that as a motivation in the match.
It is not only the head-to-head record that gives Chennaiyin an advantage. Their star player, Elano's form also puts them on a firm footing. The Brazilian has been the tournament's standout player so far, scoring several goals from craftily-taken free-kicks to be the leading goal scorer with eight strikes.
Their attacking firepower has been the most potent of the eight teams, having managed to net 24 goals. Kerala, in comparison, have struggled massively with only nine strikes, the lowest among the semi-finalists.
Kerala coach Trevor James Morgan will be hoping his team make amends in this crucial contest.