Clawing its way back from two goals down to force an away draw against Jamshedpur FC in its previous clash, Kerala Blasters FC will face another away test when it takes in FC Pune City at the Balewadi stadium in the Indian Super League on Friday.
FC Pune City's defence has been a cause of concern so far, with the side having let in eight goals in four games and will face a stern challenge from Kerala Blasters' strike force.
Blasters' mix of local and foreign goal-getters, backed by attack-minded midfielders, took the team within sight of victory at home against Delhi Dynamos, followed by an inspired a recovery away against Jamshedpur FC. CK Vineeth and Serbian striker Slavisla Stojanovic have found the back of the net, while playmaker Seiminlen Doungel is influential on the pitch, as is Halicharan Narzary overlapping on the flank.
Three drawn games in four appearances pushed the Blasters to the bottom half of the league table, but not losing a match so far also points to a tight defence marshalled by Sandesh Jhingan and goalkeepers Naveen Kumar and Dheeraj Singh have held fort between the sticks under the tutelage of coach David James.
The ex-England goalkeeper felt the Pune City strikers bear watching. “Their strike force has a lot of potential, so we need to score more than one. It is important for us to score more goals and hopefully, keep a clean sheet,” he said.
Pune City retained its key performers from last season like Marcelinho, Emilano Alfaro, Adil Khan, Marco Stankovic and Ashique Kuruniyan. However, this bunch has been unable to replicate its 2017 form so far. The side has impressed under interim coach Pradyum Reddy, who replaced the recently axed Miguel Portugal, in its 2-4 loss to FC Goa in earlier this week.
Reddy observed, “Every game is a must-win game for us. If you pick up a win, you can make a significant jump up the table. Fortunately, other teams haven't picked up too many wins. So that gives us some hope.”
Trying to find a way back to hit the road again, FC Pune City will be desperate for a win on Friday to step up the ladder from the bottom spot.