ISL 2021-22: Kerala Blasters vs Hyderabad, ISL final buildup live from stadium

ISL trophy. Pal Pillai/Focus Sports/ ISL

The Indian Super League reaches its climax as Hyderabad FC take on Kerala Blasters at the PJN Stadium in Fatorda, Goa. Season 8 of the ISL has arguably been one of the best ever, and whichever team comes out on top tonight will be deserved champions.

It's been a long, grueling season within a bio-bubble for all teams, with Covid-19 still managing to breach it. Yet, these two teams have braved the obstacles in front of them to reach the season's decider. A reward for their perseverance will be playing the final in front of a 100% capacity crowd, with scores of fans having travelled from far and wide for the showpiece event.

Both teams have never won the ISL trophy, although the Blasters have reached the final twice before (2014, 2016) only to lose both times.

Will it be third-time lucky? Head coach, Ivan Vukomanovic isn't letting the pressure of the final get to him or his squad, preferring to focus on the 'pleasure' of the opportunity in front of them. As for their opponents, Hyderabad boss Manolo Marquez will continue to rely on the unity within their squad, as they haven't let injuries or a Covid-19 outbreak derail their season.

The two teams play with differing philosophies - Hyderabad are the league's top scorers and enjoy an expansive style down the wings, while the Blasters are a high-pressing outfit that has seen them keep the most clean sheets this season. Yet, the trust both managers have placed in their Indian players is of note, with plenty set to feature in the final.

Follow this page for updates from the venue, as season 8 of the Indian Super League comes to a close. You can also whet your appetite by reading our preview.

(Please refresh the page every few minutes for updates)

If there was any doubt about which set of fans are in town....

It's a sea of yellow outside the stadium, with Kerala Blasters fans lining up to enter...

Meanwhile, anyone taking bets on the colour of those empty seats within the stadium come kickoff?

I'm guessing Hyderabad FC's official twitter account might remain silent for a while...

Meanwhile Nita Ambani, Chairperson, FDSL, is another one of those glad to see fans back in the stadium, saying "We have missed celebrating the spirit of fans in the stadiums for two years. But, now this final is the first match in two seasons, when we welcome fans back into the stands. There have been challenges but the spirit of sport, as always, has triumphed over all odds."

She added that the thrill and excitement that fans will bring from the stands, reflects the spirit of football. "The greatest joy in this beautiful game, is the joy of being a fan. With live chants of the fans, as they cheer for their favourite team, football will be the real winner."

... And of course the best way to create a new fan... is to start them young!

All the action isn't just in Goa!

Kerala Blasters coach Ivan Vukomanovic said "Kerri vaada makkalle" and boy, have the fans listened!

After two years playing in front of empty stadiums, within a bio-bubble... what a reception!

A penny for the thoughts floating through the Hyderabad FC players' minds... Technically, this is their home game, but the sea of yellow in the stands, isn't rooting for them.

Okay maybe some of them are...

And the lineups are here! Huge news for Blasters fans as Adrian Luna is fit enough to start, although Sahal Abdul Samad cannot make the matchday squad, with Rahul KP replacing him in the lineup

Similarly huge news for Hyderabad FC, as Joel Chianese returns to the lineup (with Javi Siverio making way), thus allowing Bart Ogbeche to return to his favoured #9 position. Asish Rai is also fit, and replaces Nim Dorjee at right-back.


Who will be lifting this come full time?

The game hasn't begun and we already have a raucous atmosphere!

Meanwhile, our man Anirudh Menon has the lowdown on whom the crowd's getting behind tonight...

'Amazing! They're cheering our names and it's our pleasure to play in front of our fans... we're confident of becoming champions tonight' - Adrian Luna

'We should keep our emotions in check. It's a gift to have the fans back, never mind if there are more Blasters fans but it's just nice to have them back. We'll give our hearts and souls on the field and hopefully have a victorious night' - Bart Ogbeche

And.. we're ready to go!

(Please refresh the page every few minutes for updates)