Kerala will be looking to make the most of home advantage against Pune…

Kerala Blasters FC will be back in front of home comforts when they host FC Pune City at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Friday. The Blasters have won their last three matches at home and will be looking to bounce back from their heavy 5-0 defeat at the hands of Mumbai City FC in their last match. Kerala currently lie fifth in the table with 15 points from 11 games, one spot behind the Stallions on account of an inferior goal-difference.

Speaking to the media ahead of their clash against Pune, head coach Steve Coppell offered a post-mortem of their defeat against Mumbai and insisted his team had moved on from that loss. “For me personally to be two-nil down within 15 minutes and come back from that is very difficult. I made a decision to try and get back in the game at half time. We changed a couple of things and maybe we wouldn’t have conceded a couple of goals if I had kept things more steady,” Coppell said.

He continued: ”The third goal could have been vital, so I thought if we managed to pull one back we would be back in the game. Unfortunately, we never got it but we are past that now and we have learnt what we can from that game. Mumbai is a very good team, and like I said before the game, there has been a huge investment in their team, so it was always going to be difficult against them but it’s done now and we are moving forward and improving.”

The Blasters now must turn their attention to Pune, who have been enjoying a mini-resurgence of late having notched up nine points in their last five games in contrast to six in their opening seven matches. When asked if there was an improvement in Pune’s play in the second half of the league stage, Coppell said: “Yes, it appears that way. You can judge by the way of the tally. You can also say there has been an improvement but there is still so much to play for and presently every team is capable of being in the semi-finals.”

The 61-year-old Englishman also said he had no idea how many points will be enough to qualify for the semis. “We don’t know because we don’t have that kind of control, since we’ve been here we have only been focused on the very next game because sometimes the points could be enough and sometimes not, so we just need to prove ourselves and do better to get points. Presently, all teams could reach the semi-finals. This league has been that close, and it’s great, it’s great entertainment and it shows the league is on a good path.”

Coppell also revealed their marquee player and skipper Aaron Hughes is back with the squad and available for selection after national duty. “Aaron Hughes is fit and he is our key player, so he will be playing,” he said

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