The English manager said his team were unlucky in the first half of the season…

Kerala Blasters take on Atlético de Kolkata in their penultimate league stage match of the Indian Super League at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium in Kolkata on Tuesday. The Blasters head into the contest on the back of a 2-1 win against FC Pune City last time around and are currently in fourth spot with 18 points from 12 games.

The men in yellow have enjoyed a better second half of the season having won three of their last four games after beginning their campaign with back-to-back defeats against NorthEast United FC and ATK. Kerala head coach Steve Coppell though begged to differ with the assessment that his side made a poor start to the season. “Well I don’t 100% agree with you and since I have been here the judgement is done here on basis of results and not on performance and we started away from home against NorthEast where we lost because of a deflected cross and in the second game we lost to Kolkata due to a deflected shot so even in those two games with a slow start for us we weren’t miles behind the opposition and it was just unfortunate with a couple of deflections,” Coppell told reporters at the pre-match press conference.

Kolkata have won just one of their five matches at home this season but Coppell doesn’t believe their form at home will have any bearing on the game tomorrow. “I didn’t know [that Kolkata have won only one game at home this year] and let’s be honest I don’t think it has any impact on the game and the significance of the three points are important for both teams and I think Kolkata has some very powerful forwards and we will have to be at our best against them.”

Nine out of Kerala’s 11 goals have come in the second half leading to many labelling the Blasters as a second half side this year. Commenting on his side’s second half exploits, Coppell said: “I don’t know [why Kerala score more in the second half]. I think I will tell the players tomorrow to play the second half first and we are a reasonably fit team and that might be a factor but I really don’t know. People have told me this but no way that I concentrate only on the second half and we say that let’s get the first half over with and score in the second half. We play just hard as we can to try and win the game and see what happens.”

When asked for an update on injuries and suspensions ahead of the game, the 61-year-old Englishman said, “Like all the teams at the moment, we have a few knocks and a few players who are not a 100% and we have no suspensions which I am pleased with and we will be taking a call on a few players tomorrow.”

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Report by Khel Now Correspondent Kushankur Rony Rakshit. Sports passionate and content writer. He is big football and cricket fan.