ISL: Kerala Blasters hoping to continue amazing run

Prior to the team’s last home match here late last month, head coach David James made it clear that his team needed to win its remaining six games if it nursed hopes of making the knockout stage.

Currently fifth in the ISL ladder and with table-topper Bengaluru FC already assured of a knockout berth, the Kerala Blasters will be hoping that the teams above it slip up a bit.   -  AP

A close look at the last few games in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) gives one the feeling that the stars perhaps are all lined up in Kerala Blasters’ favour.

Prior to the team’s last home match here late last month, head coach David James made it clear that his team needed to win its remaining six games if it nursed hopes of making the knockout stage.

The Kochi club’s chances appeared to slip after it shared points with ATK but two recent draws involving others – FC Goa’s against Delhi Dynamos and Jamshedpur’s against Chennaiyin — have pulled the Blasters back in the race for the last-four berth.

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Blasters, now on a remarkable unbeaten four-game streak which includes three wins, will be looking to continue its impressive run when it takes on a confident Chennaiyin FC in its penultimate league game at the Nehru Stadium here on Friday night.

Currently fifth in the ISL ladder and with table-topper Bengaluru FC already assured of a knockout berth, the Blasters will be hoping that the teams above it slip up a bit.

“But I’m not a superstitious person, I have confidence in my players getting those three points and hope they win the last game too. It’s a massive game tomorrow against Chennaiyin, a Southern derby, it’s exciting. And yes, it’s a tight time,” said James.

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John Gregory, the Chennaiyin head coach, sees an amazing change in the Blasters. “When we played Kerala last time, they were really struggling, individually and as a team. They were struggling to get results, unusual, because the home team is always strong here,” he said.

“But when David came, he had nothing to lose. He had inherited the team from the previous coach and he came with a real positive attitude and at that particular time, it showed that it was the right thing to do. David transformed the team, he has given a licence to his boys to play offensively, to try and win every single game.”

Chennaiyin, currently third in the league ladder with 28 points, will qualify for the semifinal if it wins on Friday and Gregory made it clear that his team will be playing attacking football.

“We will play the way we play, we will not be making any special changes. My team has almost been the same for many, many weeks. I’ve not had the opportunity to experiment. We’ve got into every game, trying to win, it will not be different tomorrow,” he said.