Preview: Kerala Blasters will have to beat Bengaluru FC to stay in contention for a playoffs berth in the Indian Super League when the two sides meet at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Thursday.
Nothing less than a win will do for the visitors, although that may not be enough with Jamshedpur FC and FC Goa breathing down their neck.
But they have to win and wait for the other results to go their way.
Kerala are placed sixth at the moment with 25 points from 17 matches.
They can reach a maximum of 28 and hope that Jamshedpur (26 points) and FC Goa (27 points) don't move ahead.
Hosts Bengaluru have already confirmed their place in the semi-finals and will play for momentum ahead of the knockout stages.
"We are in a difficult situation and at the mercy of Jamshedpur and Goa. But we will do everything to win and we are unbeaten," Blasters coach David James said.
The former England goalkeeper also sounded frustrated with the two draws in their five-match unbeaten run, saying that it would have been better if they had lost a game and won the other.
He also has the selection headache of deciding which position Dimitar Berbatov will play, if he gets the nod.
James erred on the side of caution - saying that "even a 1-0 win will do" - suggesting that the match may not see the Blasters come out all guns blazing. He singled out goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and captain Sunil Chhetri as two of Bengaluru's biggest threats.
Albert Roca's Bengaluru FC are eight points clear of second-placed FC Pune City and the most consistent team in the league. They've won six of the last seven games.
"It's the last game of the league but we need to keep winning because that is important. We want to be strong going into the playoffs and there is only one way to do that - to do our job as good as possible," he said.
Bengaluru and Kerala Blasters have an edgy rivalry and both managers said they expected the fans to not cross the limits during banter.
"The rivalry is good for Indian football and the fans should enjoy it in the proper way," Roca said.
With inputs from IANS
Published Date: Mar 01, 2018 20:05 PM | Updated Date: Mar 01, 2018 20:05 PM