The Englishman said his team will not sit back on their on their one-goal advantage…
Kerala Blasters FC head coach Steve Coppell is not setting much store by his one-goal advantage going into the second leg of their semi-final of Hero Indian Super League 2016 against Delhi Dynamos FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Wednesday evening. The Blasters, who won the first leg in Kochi courtesy of a brilliant goal from Kervens Belfort, have the upper hand going into this contest but speaking to the media ahead of the game, Coppell didn’t lay much stress on their first-leg advantage.
“To think that we don’t have any advantage is the way we are looking at the match and it is a game in isolation and we look at it very much that way and we prepare as well as we can as there hasn’t been a great deal of preparation time. As far as we are concerned it is nil-nil and we start again and we have got that mentality rather than we have our noses in front and you know you can do nothing better than treat the game by itself,” he said.
Coppell also dismissed a suggestion if his team will adopt a defensive strategy in view of their lead from the first leg. “I don’t think we can sort of defend anything and our mentality has got to be that it is a game which is 0-0… We have got to play a normal game and during the course of the game things might happen, goals might come, substitutions will be made and there will be referring decisions to be made and I must stress it is very important for the league that the referring is strong and not just for our game but for tonight’s game as well. One of the things that let the team down a little bit is the referring and I hope the referees are strong in recognising simulation and punishing it. I think it is important for the game going forward, so referring decisions could be a factor in deciding who wins the game tomorrow,” he said.
Earlier this season when Kerala visited Delhi they were handed a 2-0 defeat. Another factor that should give the hosts a lot of heart is that they have been unbeaten at home this season. Coppell, however, didn’t pay too much attention to that fact. “Yes, they have a very good record at home and the prize is such that we have to do our job properly. It is a huge prize for both the sides and they have got a good record at home but they haven’t won every game at home and they have to win tomorrow to get to the final and I am certain they are not thinking too much about that and we are certainly not thinking too much about it,” he said.
Used to playing in front of thousands of passionate supporters in Kochi, Coppell also played down the fact that life could be a bit difficult for them tomorrow in front of Delhi fans. “Well, it is bound to be a different atmosphere and we just have got to adapt. This is more like a theatre atmosphere I would say as the stands are so far away anyway and it is a totally different feel to it and the energy comes from the pitch than from the stands and our energy has to be good to combat a very good Delhi team,” Coppell said.
The 61-year-old Englishman also thanked co-owner and cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar for standing by the Kerala team through thick and thin. “Sachin has been invaluable this year, he has been a sounding board for me. He has helped with the team affairs and he has spoken in the past to the team and I honestly don’t know if he will be here tomorrow and even if he is not here tomorrow I am sure he will be there with us in spirit and he is a great bloke,” Coppell said.
Report and Photo Courtesy: ISL Media