It is getting tougher and tougher for Kerala Blasters. After playing Atletico de Kolkata which drew with defending champion Chennaiyin before coming here, the Kochi side now faces a confident Delhi Dynamos which slayed the Southern giant 3-1 in its den in Chennai the other day.
Clearly, the Blasters’ third-round match against the Dynamos, which will be played at the Nehru Stadium here on Sunday evening, appears to be a battle between two unequal sides.
With men like Brazilian Marcelinho, who created havoc through the wings and scored two goals against Chennaiyin, and former French World Cup runner-up Florent Malouda, and a solid defence, the Dynamos appear to have landed here with a side that could give the home boys the jitters.
But despite the many worries in the home team, which is yet to find the right men for the various roles, the one positive factor that head coach Steve Coppell hit upon was that his team showed an improvement in its energy level from the previous game.
‘Midfield, a little detached’
Coppell was clear about what his team needs to do and where it needs to improve.
“I think at the moment we can improve in all areas. Defensively, we look really tight, it was a deflected goal the other night. The midfield got a little bit detached on occasions and our strikers need to improve their scoring level,” said the former World Cupper.
“I hope the players look forward to this big challenge and come out with a performance very near to the top of their ability.”
Coppell believes the young Spaniard Josu Currais Prieto, a sparkling midfielder last season who had been assigned the role of a left back in the last game, and English striker Antonio German are flexible players who can play in any role.
“Josu’s range of passes is so significant, when he sees the whole pitch from that full-back position, he can pick passes out and perhaps be more of an influence than may be in midfield. I need him to play in a deeper position,” he explained.
When it comes to home support, the Blasters has the best crowd in the ISL. Nearly 60,000 fans came to cheer it against Kolkata here and they will now be looking for the team to deliver. Blasters will be looking to German to produce the team’s first goal this season.
Meanwhile, the Dynamos’ Italian head coach Gianluca Zambrotta, a former World Cup winner, tried to play down his team’s psychological advantage saying, “the Blasters lost two games against good teams so they will be very hungry for a win. And with nearly 65,000 fans in this big stadium, it is a big advantage for them. We have to fight very hard.”
Defender Anas Edathodika, who impressed for Dynamos in the last game, till he was forced out with an injury, is doubtful for Sunday’s game.