The Yellow Army are on a ten-match unbeaten run in the league this season.

Kerala Blasters will have their eyes on consolidating their lead at the top of the table when they take on bruised Mumbai City FC in a clash of titans in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 at the Tilak Maidan Stadium on Sunday.

Kerala are on a dream run at the moment, remaining unbeaten in 10 of their 11 games so far and sitting pretty at the top of the heap. Ivan Vukomanović’s charges have looked the best team so far in the tournament with their attacking arsenal steamrolling opponents.

In Mumbai City, they have a team that are on a five-game winless run. The fall started with Mumbai City’s 3-0 loss to
Kerala Blasters earlier in the season. The Islanders’ longest winless streak happened in the 2015 season when they went on a 7-game run without a win.

For Kerala, Adrian Luna has been their best player by a distance. The Uruguayan has been an assist king, providing six assists in 11 matches this season and is one of the main reasons for the team’s success. With six assists, he sits at the joint top for most assists in Kerala Blasters history along with Jessel Carneiro and Josu Prieto.

“We have realised no team will give us anything free in this league. We have to fight for that. In professional sport, the moment you think you are the best and start being arrogant, you are finished, you’re history. I can understand the emotion and euphoria the fans have but we need to stay focused and fight till the end,” said Vukomanović on the eve of the tie.

Reigning champions Mumbai would be desperate to end their winless run. Placed fourth in the points table, Des Buckingham’s side have 17 points in 11 games and a win on the morrow would bring them right on track.

Mumbai have conceded 20 goals this season, crossing their tally of 18 goals conceded in the league stage of Hero ISL 20-21 in just 11 matches. They have suffered because of their porous backline and Buckingham would want to address that first.

“At Mumbai City, we look at things like how it stands on the table right now – joint third and three points off the top, not just the past few games. Having said that, we can’t go through the next nine games conceding the way we have. We have the same players who are working hard. I am convinced we are a short time away from a turnaround,” Buckingham said.

On Kerala, he added: “I enjoy watching Kerala Blasters play. They are coached well by Ivan. Adrian Luna always impresses me.”

In the 15 games between the two sides, Kerala Blasters have won thrice, including the last game. Mumbai have six wins and six games ended in draws.

Team News

Mumbai City are relatively free of injuries at the moment – but Kerala Blasters are not as lucky, as Rahul KP, Albino Gomes and Jessel Carneiro remain unavailable due to long-term injuries.

The KBFC camp has also been hit by a COVID-19 outbreak, although no players have tested positive at the time of writing. The full squad is in isolation, and have not trained for the past four days.

Predicted XI

Kerala Blasters: Prabhsukhan Singh Gill (GK); Harmanjot Singh Khabra, Marko Leskovic, Ruivah Hormipam, Nishu Kumar; Sahal Abdul Samad, Jeakson Singh, Puitea, Adrian Luna, Jorge Pereyra Diaz, Alvaro Vazquez.

Mumbai City: Phurba Lachenpa (GK), Mohamad Rakip, Mourtada Fall (C), Rahul Bheke, Vignesh Dakshinamurthy, Lalengmawia, Vinit Rai, Bradden Inman, Cassio Gabriel, Bipin Singh, Ygor Catatau.

Did You Know?

  • Mumbai City are only one among two teams to do the double (win both the League Winners’ Shield and the Championship Trophy) in an ISL season. They did it in ISL 2020-21.
  • Kerala Blasters’ ongoing ten-game unbeaten run is the longest-ever in their history.
  • Mumbai City coach Des Buckingham has worked closely with Kerala Blasters’ Adrian Luna while at Melbourne City, their former club.

Telecast

As usual, the ISL 2021-22 clash between Kerala Blasters and Mumbai City will be telecast live on the Star Sports Network. The match will also be live streamed on the Disney+Hotstar platform and the JioTV app.

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