Kerala Blasters v Atletico: Yellow army ready to raise the tempo

The odds are heavily stacked against Kerala Blasters as it takes on the mighty Atletico de Kolkata in itsr first home game of the Indian Super League’s season three at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Wednesday evening.

Midfielder Josu of Kerala Blasters

Kerala Blasters manager Steve Coppell will have midfielder Josue avaible for selection again after serving the suspension in the season opener.   -  H. Vibhu

It has lost its opening game, hasn't had a single training session on its home ground in Kochi and its team is not quite balanced.

The odds are heavily stacked against Kerala Blasters as it takes on the mighty Atletico de Kolkata in itsr first home game of the Indian Super League’s season three at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Wednesday evening.

Steve Coppell, the Blasters’ new head coach, was frank in admitting that his side was not the ideal combination.

“I think it is a bit of a problem for this tournament because for a foreign coach coming in, you are more or less presented with a squad of players and you have to make the best out of the squad that is given,” said Coppell, the former England World Cupper, on Tuesday.

NOT BALANCED

“The squad is not quite balanced. But we can make do, we will make do, we will be progressive with the selections that we make.”

The former Manchester United winger feels that Blasters’ loss in its season-opener could be something to do with first-night nerves and he is banking on the one thing that could lift his boys out of their worries.

“Now it’s our first home game and, hopefully, in a frenzied atmosphere with the crowd really supporting the team for the 90 minutes because we need the help,” said the Englishman.

JOSUE BACK

The return of the young Spaniard Josue Currias Prieto, after a one-match suspension, could sort out much of the problems in the midfield, an area where the Blasters kept losing possession frequently in their last game, but the absence of a proper left-back is being felt in a big way since Coppell prefers a back-four.

However, despite the Blasters banking on English gaffers and Kolkata relying on Spanish coaches, Coppell felt that the match would not be a contest between English system and Spanish systems.

“I don’t think so. The first game, we were trying to play a more possession-based game, it didn’t work that night. The games I’ve seen so far are more high-tempo. And we have to adjust our game accordingly. I hope that we will be more high-tempo on Wednesday. We will try and match up against Kolkata and see what they have got to offer, we will try to attack as much as possible.”

Coppell spoke about the many strong points Kolkata had and the secret to being successful in the ISL.

“Kolkata have good players in (Helder) Postiga and (Iain) Hume and the players on the flanks are excellent. I don’t think it’s any accident that Kolkata have been at the top for the last couple of years,” he said.

Meanwhile Jose Molina, the Kolkata coach, made it clear that he would be focusing on how to keep his boys fresh and strong for the second-round encounter.

“I think every team has its own strengths and weaknesses. The opposition always tries to look for that weakness. But the most important thing for me is to see that our players are fresh and recovered after the long flight and give their 100 per cent tomorrow.”

Kolkata, which drew 2-2 against Chennaiyin in a dramatic game of fast-changing fortunes on Sunday, could have a lot of weary legs since the team has just two days’ rest after its last game while the Blasters have a day extra, and this could mean that there could be a number of changes in the visitor’s line-up tomorrow.