Mumbai host Kerala in bottom of the table clash

Both teams need to lift themselves off the bottom, placed seventh and eighth respectively in ISL 2015 and with three games remaining, victory and three points are the only options.

The corresponding fixture between Kerala Blasters and Mumbai City FC ended in a goalless draw.   -  H Vibhu

Mumbai City FC, playing host to Kerala Blasters FC at the D Y Patil stadium, have other things on their mind than hospitality. Both teams need to lift themselves off the bottom, placed seventh and eighth respectively in ISL 2015 and with three games remaining, victory and three points are the only options.

Terry Phelan, the visitors’ coach, said: “There are a few teams in that desperate position now, not just Kerala Blasters. We have to go out there and perform to our abilities. We’ve done it in some games, couldn’t really do it the last game. It is nerve-wracking. It also means we have to only worry about ourselves.”

Kerala Blasters’ nosedive is tough to explain, considering the quality in the squad. Liverpool born striker Chris Dagnall is placed fourth in ISL goal-getters list (five goals, 10 matches). Dagnall’s teammate Mohammed Rafi found the net four times in seven appearances. Phelan has a utility player in India defender Sandesh Jhingan, named Best Young Footballer in ISL season one.

“If we get a result here, it will give us a lot of confidence going into the next game. We have to go out and perform to the best of our abilities. We have to roll our sleeves,” said the head coach. KBFC lost six out of 11 and for a side narrowly missing out on the title last time, brining up the rear is awkward.

Mumbai City head coach Anelka is clear about what needs to be done to keep head above water. “Mathematically we still have a chance. We have to win all three games, so we start with Kerala. Once we take three points, we can think about Chennaiyin (our next opponents). We have to take it game by game and stay focused.”

The hosts have defence problems, but in Sunil Chhetri (six goals in eight games), MCFC have a match-winner of genuine class. The Indian has the coach's respect. “Chhetri is fighting all the time. He has been great. You have good and bad days but I will never say anything against him because I have seen his mentality and he gives everything on the pitch. Kerala Blasters is a strong side. Most of them are form England so I know their fighting spirit.”

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