ISL: Weary Mumbai offers Blasters a golden chance

After two goalless draws, the home side, Kerala Blasters, will be hungry to score its first goal this season and its attacking trio of Iain Hume, Dimitar Berbatov and C.K. Vineeth will be eager to get on the scoresheet.

Who will score Kerala Blasters' first goal in the ISL this season? Will it be Iain Hume (at left), the league's all-time top scorer? The fans will also want to see former Manchester United defender Wes Brown in action against Mumbai City FC on Sunday. The home side trained in Kochi on Saturday evening.   -  H. Vibhu

Fresher and fitter after a long break, the Kerala Blasters FC will be looking to work on the positives from the last game and convert them into goals when it plays Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League at the Nehru Stadium here on Sunday night.

The odds clearly favour the Kochi side for it will be playing its third straight home game, eight days after its last fixture, while Mumbai is sure to be a weary lot after a tough away game against Pune on Wednesday night. For Mumbai, which landed in Kochi only on Saturday, it will also be its third away game from four matches.

After two goalless draws, the home side will be hungry to score its first goal this season and there will be plenty of stars like Iain Hume, Dimitar Berbatov and C.K. Vineeth eager to do it. But the Blasters head coach Rene Meulensteen made it clear that the team should not be breaking its head over it.

With the blind footballers in action in Kochi on Saturday evening, for a change, the Kerala Blasters players appeared to be very interested spectators. They interacted with the blind players and offered them a few tips too.   -  H. Vibhu


“First of all, we need to ensure that we don’t make a big issue of it. We need to remind players that we are still in the process of developing and to keep emotions out of it,” said the Dutchman, a former Manchester United assistant coach, on Saturday evening.

But he also said that the long-awaited first goal would change everything. “We all know the most important goal to score in any season is the first one. Because as soon as you have scored the first one, it will bring confidence to the players, it will bring confidence to the team and then there will be a different sort of flow.”

Mumbai, which shocked the FC Goa but lost the other two games, often appears content to sit back and then counter-attack.

To tackle that, Meulensteen said that his team should show more urgency in going forward and hurt the opponent in the final third.

Meanwhile, Mumbai gaffer Alexandre Guimaraes said the fixtures have been difficult for his side.

“It is a very difficult fixture that in our first four games, three are away. This is not normal but this is what we have to handle and my role is to ensure that our players recover well after the Pune game,” he said. “But I am sure they will put everything they have to get three points on Sunday.”

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