Kerala Blasters looks for first win against strong Mumbai City FC

After picking its first point with a goalless draw against Delhi Dynamos, the Kerala Blasters FC will be trying to push for its first victory this season when it takes on Mumbai City in a fourth-round Indian Super League game at the Nehru Stadium here on Friday evening.

Steve Coppell isn't worried by the lack of goals from his team and said that the team is capable of winning five-six matches on the bounce.   -  H.Vibhu

After picking its first point with a goalless draw against Delhi Dynamos, the Kerala Blasters FC will be trying to push for its first victory this season when it takes on Mumbai City in a fourth-round Indian Super League game at the Nehru Stadium here on Friday evening.

Mumbai has landed here without its big star Diego Forlan, the 2010 World Cup’s Golden Ball award winner and best player, who is down with an injury and another key player, midfielder Pronay Halder who will miss the match with a red card.

Though Forlan’s absence should disappoint the fans here, the news should be music to the Blasters’ ears. For it will remove a huge mental hurdle from the home team’s path.

“We’ve got to be really hungry for three points, it would make such a difference to our team if we could come away with a win,” said Steve Coppell, the Blasters’ head coach.

“I personally feel we are very close (to winning). As a team, we are capable of winning five or six matches on the bounce.”

WILL THE STRIKERS FIND THEIR FEET?

Another thing the home side would be hungry to break will be its disappointing duck when it comes to goals. The Kochi side is the only team in the ISL which has not scored a single goal this season.

“Obviously, after three games, we haven’t scored a goal. We’ve looked at, assessed the games, and we’ve been working very hard in training to create more opportunities for the strikers. In the beginning of the season, I was very confident on the strikers and the variety in the combinations I could use and I haven’t lost that confidence yet,” said the former England World Cupper. “I still believe the strikers are capable of scoring a lot of goals between now and the end of the season."

HUGHES BACK

The return of its marquee player Aaron Hughes, the Northern Ireland defender who played the 2018 World Cup qualifier against World champion Germany a couple of days ago, will be big boost for the Blasters but another star defender, Frenchman Cedric Hengbart, looks doubtful for Friday’s game, the third straight home match for Blasters.

“I don’t know, to be honest,” said Coppell on Hengbart’s injury. “We will wait till the last minute to check his fitness. After the injury (in the last game), I thought he wouldn’t be available but he is such a warrior that he is working hard, rehabilitating and trying to make himself available for this match.”

DEFEDERICO, MAN TO WATCH

Mumbai, which finished sixth in the eight-team league last year, is a transformed side this season and is now in the second rung after two wins and a draw.

With Forlan missing for his second straight game, all eyes will be on Argentine Matias Defederico who has scored two of Mumbai’s three goals this season.

Mumbai, which drew 1-1 against Atletico de Kolkata after it was reduced to 10 men with Pranoy Halder’s red card in its last game, had played in smaller stadiums earlier and will be facing a huge crowd, numbering nearly 60,000, for the first time this season.

“It's the first time we’ll be playing in these kind of circumstances but my players have shown confidence and I am hoping we put up an equally good, if not better performance tomorrow against Blasters,” said Costa Rican Alexandre Guimaraes, the Mumbai head coach.

  Dugout videos