Kerala Blasters continue quest for first ISL goal against wounded Mumbai City
Written by: P.S. Parameswaran
Incidentally, the hosts scored their first goal last season in the corresponding fixture last season.
It wouldn’t be wrong to assume that Rene Meulensteen will be feeling a little bit of pressure ahead of Kerala Blasters’ home clash against Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) on Sunday. Winless and goalless so far, The Dutchman will be hoping his boys grab three points against last season’s semi-finalists. Mumbai, on the other hand, will be keen to get back to winning ways after a derby defeat against FC Pune City.
Blasters racked up their first win of last season after a 1-0 victory over Mumbai City in Kochi. It set the tone for the Yellow Brigade as they won their remaining home matches. The Blasters faithful will be hoping for a similar trend after goalless draws against ATK and Jamshedpur FC. The Blasters boss won’t be settling for a point as yet another draw at home could put the team under immense pressure when they travel to Goa next.
Though his side has struggled to find fluency upfront, Meulensteen will be delighted with his backline. Assured performances from Sandesh Jhingan and Nemanja Lakic-Pesic in the heart of defence have helped Blasters to keep clean sheets in both games.
Amrinder Singh has made 14 saves, the highest by a goalkeeper this season, and it says a lot about Mumbai's fragilities at the back. the Islanders, who were brilliant away from home previous season, have lost both their matches on the road this time around.
Alexandre Guimaraes’ boys have been criticised for lack of creativity up front. Out of the three goals scored by the visitors, two came via individual brilliance. Mumbai City’s opponents enjoyed better possession and kept Amrinder busy in all three games. Guimaraes must be hoping to fix the leaky defence, which has a habit of conceding goals in the dying minutes of the match. He will also be keen to see better link-up play in the attacking third.
Meulensteen is expected to stick with the same attacking lineup, while in defence Rino Anto could make way for Samuel Shadap. The 25-year-old was a regular for Shillong Lajong in the I-League last season. Though, Wes Brown is back in contention, the Dutch coach is unlikely to include the former Manchester United defender in the starting lineup against Mumbai.
After an improved show against Jamshedpur FC, Dimitar Berbatov must be hoping to contribute more on the attacking front and bring Iain Hume into play. He will need the support of former Bengaluru FC midfielder C K Vineeth who has so far struggled to replicate his last season’s form. The Keralite has assured fans that Blasters’ first goal of the season will come against Mumbai on Sunday.
Mumbai defender Raju Gaikwad came under fire after his mistakes led to both Pune goals in the Maha Derby. It wouldn’t be a surprise if ex-Delhi Dynamos defender Lalchhawnkima replaces Gaikwad in the starting XI. Also, injured defenders Aiborlang Khongjee and Zakeer Mundampara are not expected to feature against Blasters.
Mumbai City FC’s only away defeat last season in the league stage came against Blasters. Guimaraes’ side took sweet revenge after crushing the Kerala side 5-0 in the reverse fixture thanks to a hat-trick from Diego Forlan and a goal each from Otacilio Alves and Lucian Goian. In the six games played between both sides, Mumbai have won two, Blasters one and three matches ended in a draw.
Man to Watch
Paul Rachubka-Kerala Blasters: Jamshedpur FC fans thought they had their first goal in the ISL when Kervens Belfort outjumped Rino Anto to head in Trindade Gonçalves’ cross from the right. But Paul Rachubka had other ideas as he made a fantastic one-handed save to deny the newbies their first goal. The 36-year-old has ensured stability in the backline. He will face a stern test from Balwant Singh, who scored a screamer against Pune.
Paul Rachubka Save against Jamshedpur FC
Amrinder Singh- Mumbai City FC: Like his opposite number, Amrinder Singh has made a fine start to the season. He was instrumental in the Islanders' victory over FC Goa at home. With the game still in the balance, the former BFC custodian made a diving save to deny Ferran Corominas. Amrinder will be hoping that the hosts attacking unit will have another off day.
Amrinder Singh Save against FC Pune City
Did You Know
- Kerala Blasters have scored just one goal in three games against Mumbai City FC in Kochi.
- The Kerala Blasters-Mumbai City FC fixture is yet to see an Indian goal scorer.
- Former France striker Nicolas Anelka scored his first Indian Super League goal against Kerala Blasters.
The match will be broadcast live on Star Sports 2 and Stars Sports 2 HD from 7.50 pm onwards. It will be also available for live streaming on Hotstar and Jio TV.
Published: Sat Dec 02, 2017 08:23 PM IST