ISL 2018, Mumbai City FC vs Kerala Blasters FC, match highlights: Modou Sougou scores four as hosts thrash visitors 6-1
Kerala Blasters FC know that even draws will no more help their cause as they seek to climb up the ladder and challenge for a play-off spot in the Indian Super League (ISL)
Mumbai: Kerala Blasters FC know that even draws will no more help their cause as they seek to climb up the ladder and challenge for a play-off spot in the Indian Super League (ISL) and would thus look for a win against Mumbai City FC at the Mumbai Football Arena on Sunday.
Kerala, coached by former England goalkeeper David James, are languishing in eighth position with nine points from 11 matches and will need to pick up maximum points from their remaining matches to finish among the top four.
They started on a high, winning the opener against Atletico de Kolkata (ATK), but since then have hit a rough patch that includes six drawn matches.
Only Jamshedpur FC have drawn more games, and ahead of their next fixture against Mumbai.
"I think not winning is difficult for the team. I don't think we deserve to be in a 10-match non-winning run. There is this pressure obviously," said James.
"I suppose we are still mathematically in the run for a top-four finish and we believe that. I just hope we qualify. There is that added pressure of winning every game. We cannot go out and draw anymore," he added.
The Kochi-based outfit have struggled upfront with just 11 goals scored and they will be up against a side not known to leak in goals. In fact, Mumbai, second on the table with 21 points, have only let in two goals at home and haven't conceded at the venue for more than 360 minutes.
"We know what we got to do now. We have got very little choice in that. When it comes to sort of confidence, I think the provisional squad for the Asian Cup which has five players from our side has boosted the confidence. Stephen Constantine definitely believes in our players," said James.
Mumbai City will look to further consolidate their position in order to take an important step in qualifying for the play-offs.
"In my opinion, it will be the most difficult game until now and I can explain why. We are the last team to play and are doing so against a team that are comfortable and have nothing to lose," said Mumbai coach Jorge Costa.
"It is a difficult moment. Difficult because it is the last game of the year. After this the players will have a small break and they will go home. We must be focused on this game tomorrow," he added.
Mumbai will be without Sehnaj Singh, who was red carded in their last game, and in his absence Milan Singh is likely to deputise in his position.
Mumbai have been one of the best counter-attacking units and Kerala need to keep a tab on that on Sunday.
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ISL 2020-21: Two-way battle for top spot, playoff scenarios involving FC Goa, Hyderabad FC and NorthEast United
League leaders ATK Mohun Bagan could've sealed the top spot on Monday and with it, the AFC Champions League slot but Hyderabad FC denied them as their match ended in an entertaining 2-2 draw.
Mumbai City remained on second spot with 34 points from 17 matches while Bengaluru FC jumped to sixth with 22 points from 18 matches.
Mumbai City need to finish at the top of the league to earn the AFC Champions League spot.