ISL: Shaky Pune faces resurgent Kerala

FC Pune City will have to take its game to a different level to arrest the slide marked by consecutive losses at home as it hosts Kerala Blasters at Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium in the Indian Super League.

Kerala Blasters coach Steve Coppell..."Every game is going to come thick and fast now, so we have to collect as many points as possible."   -  H. Vibhu

FC Pune City assistant coach Miguel insists his team has prepared adequately for carry on without chief coach Antonio Habas, who remains suspended for the first four matches. But since the Indian Super League (ISL) kicked off, Pune has found itself in a spot of bother.

Pune has three points from three matches and will have to take its game to a different level to arrest the slide marked by consecutive losses at home as it hosts Kerala Blasters at Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium, Balewadi-Pune, on Monday.

Pune was bristling with confidence after scoring a 90th minute winner against FC Goa in Goa but at home it has been unable to secure a single point. It lost to Mumbai City FC in the Maharashtra Derby and then went down against NorthEast United FC in the last game.

“We need to improve in all areas. I can’t say one area we need to improve in, we need to improve in many areas. But it is our job. We will work hard and we will improve,” said the assistant coach.

Impressive Sissoko

Pune will miss the services of Eduardo Fereira for the clash against Kerala after the defender was sent off against NorthEast. The defensive duties were then assigned to marquee Mohamed Sissoko and the former Liverpool midfielder did an appreciable job.

“Sissoko’s performances have been good. He played well in both positions, in central midfield and centre back,” said Miguel.

Chief coach Habas will have to sit out for one final game to serve his four-match suspension. It could be difficult for him to watch his team again from the stands in Pune as Kerala will be high on confidence after securing its first win in the league and that too against high-flying Mumbai.

Kerala was struggling with form ahead of its fourth-round clash against Mumbai but a second-half goal from Michael Chopra has changed the mood dramatically.

“I don't believe in setting targets. Game by game I try to plan and win the game. The goal that Atletico de Kolkata scored against us was a deflected shot. It seemed a little cruel to us. But the points would obviously make a difference. That's how it is. Every game is going to come thick and fast now, so we have to collect as many points as possible. Once we come into rhythm we will keep winning,” said Kerala manager Steve Coppell.

Kerala Blasters has kept two clean sheets in a row and will be hugely encouraged by the central defensive partnership of marquee Aaron Hughes and Cedric Hengbart, both of whom look in fine form.

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