ISL: Upbeat Kerala Blasters braces for BFC challenge

Fresh from a long Christmas break and in a very positive frame of mind after the results of its last two matches, Kerala Blasters FC appears well set for Sunday evening’s Indian Super League game against Bengaluru FC at the Nehru Stadium here.

Bengaluru FC training in Kochi ahead of its Indian Super League clash against Kerala Blasters on Sunday.   -  H Vibhu

Fresh from a long Christmas break and in a very positive frame of mind after the results of its last two matches, Kerala Blasters FC appears well set for Sunday evening’s Indian Super League game against Bengaluru FC at the Nehru Stadium here.

The last two encounters - a home win against NorthEast United and a last-gasp draw against Chennaiyin away - have made the Blasters believe in itself and this, feels head-coach Rene Meulensteen, has come at the right time since the next few games are coming thick and fast - in fact, five within the space of 17 days in January.

Blasters primed for BFC

“I think the team showed great character to bounce back in the final minutes after that penalty in Chennai and that gives you an enormous boost to go into this game,” said the Dutchman here on Saturday evening.

“So, we know now that we can play good football, that we can create chances and we know we have gone back to defending in a proper way as well…so we really look forward to this challenge.”

The Kerala Blasters will soon have the young, energetic Ugandan Kizito Keziron to boost its midfield. The 20-year-old’s arrival in Kochi had been delayed as he was under a contract with a Kenyan Premier League team.

“I’m really glad that we have managed to bring Keziron into the squad. He is a very young, promising player. He will be a really good addition to the squad in the midfield. He is very versatile and very energetic,” said the Kerala Blasters head-coach Rene Meulensteen here on Saturday.
 

Every ISL team is allowed to have eight foreign players and for Blasters, Keziron will be the eighth foreigner.

Meulensteen was not clear whether the Blasters’ big star, Dimitar Berbatov who suffered an injury early this month, would play Sunday’s game but mentioned that the Bulgarian had a good week of training.

However, Rino Anto, who injured his hamstring, will miss the match. Debutant Bengaluru, which had an impressive start winning four of its first five games, is on a low now, having lost its last two matches at home.

BFC banking on good away record

But assistant coach Naushad Moosa, who came in for head-coach Albert Roca, to speak to the media, reminded everyone that the team, led by Indian captain Sunil Chhetri, has a very good away record.

“We bounced back and played very well in our last three away games, including wins against Pune and NorthEast,” said the former international.

“We will be playing positively tomorrow, we have come here for points and hopefully we will get them.”

Bengaluru, which is currently fourth in the 10-team ISL table with 12 points compared to Blasters’ eighth spot and seven points, will be without defender John Johnson, who is away owing to family commitments, and forward Udanta Singh (injury).