Preview: Kerala Blasters FC will look to extend their unbeaten run when they take on Chennaiyin FC in an Indian Super League (ISL) match in Kochi on Friday.
Kerala are unbeaten in their last four matches. They are currently at the fifth spot with 24 points from 16 matches and a win will keep alive the remote possibility of making the ISL play-offs.
With 28 points from 16 games, third placed Chennaiyin are not yet assured of qualification for the semi-finals, but even a loss will keep them in the top four.
However, both teams have only two matches left. The previous match between the two sides ended in a 1-1 draw after goals in the 89th and 90th minutes from Rene Mihelic and CK Vineeth, respectively.
But on Friday, neither will be happy with anything but a win and full points from the encounter.
"It was a tough schedule for us to play games and then recover for a day before jumping onto the plane again. We're delighted with the amount of points we've got from these last four matches," Chennaiyin head coach John Gregory said.
"I didn't change the team that much so it has been a huge workload for them and says everything about my squad. We're where we are because of our work ethic. Now we come into this game with an unusual four-five days of rest and we are in very good shape," he added.
But this is hardly the same Kerala side that they faced early on.
"They were struggling when we played them last time, individually and as a team. But with the new coach (David James) coming in with a positive attitude.. it has totally transformed the team," Gregory said.
Kerala Blasters coach James himself sounded pretty confident, and said that there were initial question marks when he joined Kerala for the second time in his career.
"The experience I had as a head coach was also a matter of question but from day one it was always about how Kerala Blasters is about everyone involved with the club and not just the players and the head coach. So without wanting to make it sound too easy, it was still easy to instil confidence in everyone with a support staff like mine," he said.
"We expect them to win the game and get over the line. For us, we have to win the game and aim for six points (from two games)," he added.
With inputs from IANS
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Updated Date: Feb 23, 2018 20:07:06 IST