ISL 2017: Hume, Berbatov in the spotlight against Jamshedpur FC

Being its second home game in front of a packed stadium, the Blasters start with a big advantage while Jamshedpur would be playing away for the second time.

With Blasters’ big name Iain Hume (in pic) hungry to open his account, the Jamshedpur defence, especially its big-money buy Anas Edathodika, is likely to be kept busy on Friday.   -  H.VIBHU

The big names in the Kerala Blasters may not lived up to the billing in the Indian Super League (ISL) opener here last week but Blasters coach Rene Meulensteen and his counterpart, Jamshedpur FC’s Steve Coppell, reminded everybody that the season was just one game old for their teams.

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So don’t jump to conclusions.

The Blasters, last year’s runner-up, and ISL newcomer Jamshedpur play their second game at the Nehru Stadium here on Friday night and it promises to be an interesting battle. And with both coming off goalless draws, they would be hungry for a victory.

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“It’s a long journey … and there are days when you don’t get things right. It’s very important that we, within our group, stay calm and focused,” said Meulensteen.

Being its second home game in front of a packed stadium, the Blasters start with a big advantage while Jamshedpur would be playing away for the second time. And despite having a rather quiet day last week, the home team’s star striker Dimitar Berbatov is capable of producing moments of magic. The visitor will also be without its Cameroonian defender Andre Bikey with a red card. Even Wes Brown is likely to miss his second straight game due to an injury.

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Coppell, the Blasters coach last season, is a respected man and Meulensteen felt it would be a difficult game.

“Knowing Steve, he will have his team well organised. And with their sort of style of play, where they defend direct, you have to be very alert because they can catch you off guard,” said the home coach.

Coppell’s team, like the Blasters, appeared good in defence and it was the attacking third which had been a worry.

And the former Blasters coach made it clear that teams should not be judged by just the opening game. “You need to look at two or three games to form an opinion. Again, tremendous respect for some of the players in the Blasters team and some of them are capable of scoring goals and capable of getting them from nowhere,” said the Englishman.

“So, I’m sure once everybody gets into the rhythm of the season, the quality of the players in every team will be a little more evident.”

With Blasters’ big name Iain Hume hungry to open his account, the Jamshedpur defence, especially its big-money buy Anas Edathodika, is likely to be kept busy on Friday.

“Anas is a top player, one of the best in India…it’s a challenge, you don’t expect to get an easy game,” said Hume, the ISL’s all-time top scorer.