Kerala Blasters would hope to be third time lucky at home when they face Mumbai City FC in an Indian Super League match at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Sunday.
Kerala Blasters are one of three teams to not have registered a win in the fourth season of ISL, and will face a side who have suffered a Maharashtra derby defeat.
Mumbai City FC will play the Blasters on the back of a narrow 1-2 loss against FC Pune City, but will take heart from the fact that their on Friday’s opponents have not even scored a goal in two games yet.
CK Vineeth (Kerala Blasters FC)
Even though finding the back of the net has proved to be difficult for Kerala this season, Vineeth has been a constant threat in attacks. The winger’s pace and guile with the ball at his feet has taken apart many formidable defences in the past. He will need to have a good outing and produce some magic on Sunday if Kerala want maximum points.
Balwant Singh (Mumbai City FC)
The focal point of Mumbai’s attacks, Balwant scored a scintillating goal in the derby which unfortunately counted for little in the end. But the striker has shown good intent from the word go in each of his matches. He possesses quick feet and is a poacher in the penalty box, making him one of Mumbai’s biggest threats against the Blasters.
Kerala Blasters have already hosted Jamshedpur FC and ATK at home, and will want to notch a win before they travel to Goa for their first away match of the season on December 9.
POTENTIAL STARTING LINEUPS
Kerala Blasters FC
Kerala will probably line up in a 4-5-1 formation and pack their midfield with bodies.
Goalkeeper: Paul Rachubka
Defenders: Lalruatthara, Nemanja Lakic Pesic, Sandesh Jhingan, Rino Anto
Midfielders: CK Vineeth, Courage Pekuson, Milan Singh, Dimitar Berbatov, Jackichand Singh
Forwards: Iain Hume
“The first thing is to not let the issue get bigger than it is. We are still in the process of developing as a side. We were better in the second game than the first and we are keeping clean sheets,” head coach Rene Meulensteen said.
“We kept the ball better, there was penetration and cutting edge and we created chances, but we know the most important goal to score in any season is the first one. It will bring confidence to the team and create a different sort of flow. To win a match, we need to score goals,” he added.
Mumbai City FC
Alexandre Guimaraes is likely to stick to his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, giving plenty of leeway and edge to the attack.
Goalkeeper: Amrinder Singh
Defenders: Raju Gaikwad, Lucian Goian, Gerson Vieira, Aiborlang Khongjee
Midfielders: Leo Costa, Sehnaj Singh, Abinash Ruidas, Everton Santos, Achille Emana,
Forwards: Balwant Singh
Mumbai City’s head coach Alexandre Guimaraes has a tough task on hand to negotiate three of their first four matches which are being played away at the start of the season.
“We have to handle this and our aim now is to recover from the tough game against Pune. The players will give everything they have to fight for the three points and then have time in Mumbai where we play two games at home,” he said.
It will be a cracker of a match between a side that reached the finals last season against one which ended on top of the table under the same manager.