Preview: Kerala Blasters will look to overtaking fourth-placed FC Goa in the Indian Super League (ISL) table when they meet at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Sunday.
Since the arrival of former England goalkeeper David James as coach, Kerala have earned seven points from the four matches to rejuvenate themselves. They have 14 points and a win will take their points tally to 17–one more than Goa.
Though they suffered a defeat to Jamshedpur FC in their last game, they have a chance to make further progress and also avenge their 2-5 defeat in Goa.
"We might have the same players but we are now a different team to when we last met. We had a very good trip around India. I was delighted with what I saw, even in defeat. There were a lot of positives," said James in a release.
It will not be easy for Kerala to stop the free-flowing FC Goa team particularly with Spanish attackers Ferran Corominas Telechea and Manuel Lanzarote in fine form.
James, however, said they can measure up to the challenge with support from the massive crowd.
"The first thing in football is to understand the result and know why you lost or won. I wasn't there at that time but the players understand what they are doing now," said James.
"My focus is to get the players ready. This is yet another tough match for us but we have to go for three points," he added.
FC Goa too know the turnaround Kerala has managed over last four games, It certainly will not be as easy their previous outing against the Yellow army at Fatorda. Corominas scored the fastest hat-trick in the ISL as Kerala were all at sea last time they met.
"What happened in the past is the past. We will not focus there. If we think the game will be similar to what happened in Goa, we will be mightily confused. Regardless of where we play, whether it's home or away, all teams are equally balanced," said FC Goa chief coach Sergio Lobera.
The big concern for FC Goa who are placed fourth with 16 points from nine matches have been their defence. Goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani has been in good form in the past couple of matches, making a number of good saves. He has however, not kept a clean sheet in the tournament yet.
The defence has crumbled under the slightest pressure and coach Lobera admitted they have work to do, although their attacking style won't be compromised.
"We are not going to give up on our offensive style of football but we will try and find the defensive balance when we play tomorrow," said Lobera.
Ali Mohamed is expected to start in the heart of defence along side Sergio Juste who will replace an injured Bruno Pinheiro. Seriton Fernandes will start on the right and Narayan Das will continue on the left.
After a long period of rest, Sergio Lobera's midfield generals Edu Bedia and Ahmed Jahouh will be raring to go and produce a similar performance like they did against the same opposition in Goa.
With inputs from IANS
Updated Date: Jan 21, 2018 22:33 PM