Both managers are expecting a competitive game on Saturday night
FC Goa host Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League (ISL) match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, Goa on Saturday. Ahead of the match, both managers met the press at the pre-match press conference.
Kerala are coming into the match with a 1-1 draw against Mumbai City while FC Goa sealed a thrilling 4-3 victory over Bengaluru FC. This is Blasters’ first away game of the league.
The Gaurs come into the match after over a week off and manager Sergio Lobera reflected on the break. “I don’t think we have any free days as such. We continued to work since the last game on many aspects that we needed to work on. This team was practically built from scratch. So, obviously there are some things we need to improve on and they will be improved in the course of the season.”
Speaking on Saturday’s opposition Lobera said, “I won’t classify Kerala as a defensive team from what we’ve seen until this point. They have got a lot of players and quality and can create a lot of chances. Saturday we will be against a rival which is a highly organized side and very good at attack and defense and we will have to be at our best to get our points.”
Lobera was asked again about what they did in the break. “It is true that eight days is a long time, but it is how the league is devised. It is not that it is fiction, it is according to how the league comes up and we need to learn how to adapt and improve ourselves accordingly.”
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Kerala Blasters coach Rene Meulensteen on being asked about his side’s performance said, “Concerned, not really, disappointed that we haven’t won any, yes. But, on the other hand, we have seen progress in all three games and I’m definitely happy with that, that’s important for the players.”
He continued, “Its another game to see where we are. This is our first away game. It is very different to play an away game. More than anything we need to keep on progressing as individuals and as a team.”
Asked what kind of match he expects the Dutchman said, “Interesting game for sure. I have followed all the ISL matches and had a close look at Goa. They had a really strong start against Chennai. They have a specific style of play and everyone can see that.”
He added, “They can hurt you and obviously other teams have shown where they have problems. But, we are well aware of their strengths and its something that we have to deal with. That’s what we have prepared with.”
Meulensteen defended the decision to play star man Dimitar Berbatov in midfield, “We are still fine-tuning and the type of player that Berbatov is, he brings quality to the side. You need to think outside the box. You want your best players on the ball.”
He further explained, “You have to realize that for players that play upfront, once they cross the age of 30 they lose their explosiveness and lose their sustainable speed, but still retain some qualities that can be used to play in other positions and that is basically what we are trying.”