ISL 2019-20: Kerala looks for home comfort against Mumbai

Roared on by vociferous home support, Kerala gave a good account of itself in a win over ATK and will be hoping to make the maximum of that on Thursday as well.

The onus will be on star striker Bartholomew Ogbeche, who scored a brace on Sunday, to deliver again.

The onus will be on star striker Bartholomew Ogbeche, who scored a brace on Sunday, to deliver again.   -  ISL Media

After a promising start to its campaign, Kerala Blasters FC is set to pit its wits against Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League on Thursday.

Roared on by vociferous home support, Kerala gave a good account of itself in its 2-1 win over ATK and coach Eelco Schattorie will be hoping to make the maximum of the home advantage.

Kerala generally tends to do well, if it performs well at home. In 2014 and 2016, when it reached the play-offs, it had a strong home record, losing just one home game in both seasons.

“If you play at home, you have a little bit of advantage,” said the Dutchman.

Mumbai has an air of surprise around it, given that it hasn’t played till now while Kerala Blasters has already given Jorge Costa an opportunity to analyse it. Schattorie felt that while it is an advantage for the visitor, he is not particularly worried.

“The playing style of Mumbai (City) is clear for me. How the positions are filled and which players is always a question mark when you don’t see their games. If you already saw your opponent play one time, it makes a difference. (But) it is another challenge that we have to face,” he said.

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Mumbai manager Jorge Costa, however, said he saw what he expected from Kerala in its match.

“We studied the team (Kerala Blasters) but it was the first game of the season. It was not a wonderful game, but it was very good. I watched KBFC for the first time but it was not a surprise. I knew the players, I know the coach,” Costa said.

Mumbai will look towards the likes of Paulo Machado and Modou Sougou, key figures behind the team’s run to the play-offs last season, to drive the team. The side has several key Indian midfielders in Rowllin Borges and Raynier Fernandes, who will be expected to set the tempo for the team from the middle of the park.

The Islanders will also bank on the firepower they have with new recruits Serge Kevyn and Amine Chermiti boosting their attacking arsenal.

Kerala’s defensive duo of Gianni Zuiverloon and Jairo Rodrigues will have their hands full on Thursday.

Kerala does have a bit of a fitness concern after influential midfielder Mario Arques was taken off injured in the last game. He will miss Thursday’s match. But the onus will be on star striker Bartholomew Ogbeche, who scored a brace on Sunday, to deliver again.

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