Both sides target three points in Kochi after difficult start to the season.
Two games into the Indian Super League season Kerala Blasters head coach Rene Meulensteen has admitted that the country’s most popular league isn’t easy. The former Manchester United first team coach was talking to mediapersons ahead of Blasters’ home clash against Mumbai City FC.
“I think the ISL is a little bit erratic. It’s very hard to predict how actually things are going to go. Opponents that come off a bad run surprise you by really putting in a good performance. Teams on a really good run surprise you by not performing on the day,” Meulensteen explained elaborating on his view.
Though Blasters had ample time to recover after their clash against Jamshedpur FC, the visitors will be playing their second game in five days. The Dutch coach insisted that on Sunday focus will remain on keeping a clean sheet and scoring the first goal of the season.
“We improved very much in certain areas of the pitch (against Jamshedpur), Again we kept A clean sheet. We kept the ball far better than we did against ATK. The next step is now to turn that possession into more of an attacking threat, that’s what has been lacking – the penetration, cutting edge, final decision-making.”
Meulensteen called Mumbai City a “strong opponent” and believes the first goal will bring a major boost to the team. “The most important goal to score in any season is the first one. As soon as we score the first one it will bring confidence to the players and it creates a different sort of flow,” he said.
The head coach asserted the importance of Dimitar Berbatov’s presence in the squad and expects his players to build on the performance against Jamshedpur FC.
Alexandre Guimaraes slams scheduling, rues injuries
Mumbai City’s clash against Kerala Blasters will be their third away fixture in four games and their coach Alexandre Guimaraes isn’t impressed with the “not normal” scheduling.
“It’s very difficult when you have to play three away games in your first four matches. I don’t think it’s normal but that’s what we have to handle. I know for sure players will give their 100% on Sunday,” Guimaraes said.
He blamed injuries as one of the main reasons for the Islanders’ difficult start to the season. “At the start of the season we had different situations with different players. Aibor (Aiborlang Khongjee) hurt his knee during pre-season training and had to undergo a surgery. Also youngster Davinder Singh had to face a similar situation. So, we have to adjust certain things that take a bit of time,” said the head coach.
The Mumbai City boss heaped praise on Blasters goalkeeper Paul Rachubka. “Kerala Blasters’ approach to the final third is interesting. The fact that ATK and Jamshedpur FC failed to score against them shows they are solid in defence. They also have a good goalkeeper, who, like our keeper has been very impressive so far.”
He added that left-back Abhinas Ruidas will turn out to be an important player in Indian football in the near future. “Ruidas has improved a lot from game one to game three. He’s a young player with a good future and will be important for Indian football.”