The Englishman believes his team will have to play well to get points against Mumbai…

Kerala Blasters FC will be looking to leapfrog Mumbai City FC in the 2016 Hero Indian Super League standings when the two sides lock horns at the Mumbai Football Arena on Saturday. The Blasters currently trail Mumbai by one point in the league table and will be hoping to complete the double over Alexandre Guimaraes’ men this season after registering a 1-0 win against them earlier this season.

Speaking to the media at the pre-match press conference, Kerala head coach Steve Coppell insisted that every game between now and the end of the league stage is crucial as the battle to reach the semis intensifies. “Well I think every game for every team is crucial as every team has a chance to qualify for the semi-finals. Mumbai is a fantastic team and they have invested a lot in their team and they have some superb players. We know we have got to play well to get something from the game but that applies to every game and with three-four games to play, it’s still all to play for everyone and every game is critical,” he said.

Kerala head into the contest on the back of two consecutive wins against FC Goa and Chennaiyin FC. However, only league leaders Delhi Dynamos FC have managed to notch up three wins on the bounce this year. Coppell believes that the unique and challenging format of the league is what prevents teams from stringing together a run of victories. “I think it is difficult because all the teams are very close in terms of ability and performance. I think the travel makes a difference, the training facilities and loads of other little things make a big difference over the course of these fourteen games…It is very demanding for the players,” said Coppell.

He continued: “And getting the formula and maintaining it is hard and as you said only one team has won three in a row which is Delhi and you can say Delhi are looking to be the best team at the moment but they might have a dip, possibly. It’s six points separating top and bottom teams right now and there is hardly anything to choose between the teams and any team that finishes strongly [in these last few games], I think they will be in the semi-finals.”

The Blasters have netted five times in their last two matches in stark contrast to the six they managed in their opening eight games of the season. Coppell was quick to attribute it to the return of local boys CK Vineeth and Rino Anto. “The two players Vineeth and Rino who came in from Bengaluru FC in a league where you are not allowed to make mid-season signings. For us, it was like signing two new players and psychologically it was important and obviously in performance it has made a big difference and we were delighted to have them and Vineeth’s impact has been substantial,” the 61-year-old said.

Kerala’s man of the moment CK Vineeth, who has scored three goals in two games and averages a goal every 37.3 minutes, which is the best in the league, also accompanied Coppell to the press conference. Commenting on if the tag of being the Blasters’ match-winner brings added pressure, Vineeth said: “I don’t think like that…Our team members are working hard, so we won because of them and I just scored a few goals luckily.”