Chennaiyin favourite against struggling Blasters

Kerala Blasters will be hoping interim coach Trevor Morgan can improve results as they host Marco Materazzi's Chennaiyin FC.

Stiven Mendoza is the top scorer in the ISL with six goals.   -  The Hindu

They are a team that have just lost their head coach, lost four games in a row and are now at the bottom of the table.

Clearly, the Kerala Blasters FC are going through a major crisis. The Kochi side play Marco Materazzi’s confident Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League’s seventh round at the Nehru Stadium here on Saturday in what appears to be a very difficult time.

But Trevor Morgan, now the home team’s ‘caretaker coach’ after the departure of head coach Peter Taylor, feels that his side are just one win away from finding a solution to their problems.

NOT LACKING SELF-BELIEF

“I think we are just one win away from finding form. I don’t think there is a lack of self belief because we have good players,” said the England-born Morgan, who took East Bengal to a wonderful high a few years ago, here on Friday. “You just need that win to set you off again and we hope it comes tomorrow.”

Morgan’s boys can gain inspiration from the fact that nobody gave them much of a chance last season but they still went on to finish as runners-up. The unpredictable nature of the ISL, which has produced some very shocking results, should also offer hope.

The defence was the Blasters’ forte last season as the forwards were slow in scoring goals but now, the backline appears to be the problem area, letting in late goals.

Morgan feels that the league is now harsher in handing out punishment. “Last year, we were making mistakes but not getting punished but this season, we are getting punished,” he said.

CHANGE IN FORMATION

The home team, using the 5-3-2 formation in almost all their games under Taylor this season despite a string of losses, will be working out a different system keeping a close eye on Chennaiyin’s quick attackers, Colombian Stiven Mendoza and Brazilian Elano. But Morgan kept his cards close to his chest.

“We need to win tomorrow, so we are trying to put a system that gives us a lot of opportunities going forward and at the same time we need to make sure that we don’t concede goals,” said the 59-year-old.

EXCITING DUO

Chennaiyin, currently placed fifth with nine points, were the only side to beat the Blasters in Kochi last season and the Mendoza-Elano combination has produced some of ISL’s most exciting moments this year. The visiting side will be eager to make the most of the Blasters’ problems but Vivek Nagul, their assistant coach, felt that it would be a tough encounter.

“Their coach has been sacked but it happens in football…we know Trevor, he’s a coach who has been with the team last year too. We also know about the abilities of the Kerala players,” said Nagul. “They are a good team and they have a strong home support but we look at it as another game. It’s an away game and we expect a tough competition. But we are ready.”

Chennaiyin will be without their midfielder Harmanjot Khabra, who is on a four-match suspension, while the Blasters’ marquee player Carlos Marchena is doubtful because of a recurring back problem.

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