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Kerala aim to capitalise on Mumbai's poor ISL home record (Preview)

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Mumbai, Nov 18 (IANS) Kerala Blasters will be looking to exploit goal-shy Mumbai City FCs unimpressive home record as they host Kerala Blasters in a crucial match of the Indian Super League (ISL) football tournament here on Saturday.

Mumbai have scored only two goals at home -- the lowest by a home team so far in the tournament. Both Kerala and Mumbai have conceded the fewest goals (8) this season.

The absence of goals from Mumbai's big name players was uppermost on the mind of coach Alexandre Guimaraes.

"In football, you must have confidence in your players at all times. We have top quality players in all departments. Up front, we have all very good high quality players. It's a matter of patience," said Guimaraes on Friday, as per an ISL release.

"It happens in football. The main thing for these players is that they have chances. I know sooner than later they will convert more than what they have been doing," it added.

Mumbai, second on the table with 16 points from 11 matches, have scored only three goals in the last six matches and failed to score in the last two games against FC Pune City and FC Goa. They have managed to win only one out of their four home matches this season.

Kerala are just a point and place below Mumbai, having played a match less than them.

Kerala have experienced a sudden change in fortunes winning two matches straight, against FC Goa and Chennaiyin FC.

Forward C.K. Vineeth has sparked the turnaround, scoring in both the games since joining the club after his commitments for I-League club Bengaluru FC, who recently lost in their maiden Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup final.

"Vineeth's impact has been substantial," admitted coach Steve Coppell.

Vineeth scored the winning goal against Goa after coming off the bench and then scored a brace against Chennaiyin. Vineeth's accuracy has given Kerala's wasteful a breath of fresh air.

Coppell, however, will need an all-round contribution from his team to weather the Mumbai challenge, especially at this stage of the league where every team will put in those extra efforts to qualify for the play-offs.

"Every game for every team is crucial now. Every team is still capable of being in the play-off. We are playing against a very good team. They have invested a lot in their team and have some super players. We know we have to play well to get something out of this game. Three points are vital for every game," said Coppell.

"The premium now at the end of the league is on winning games. I think teams will adjust their styles. In the first two-thirds, the emphasis were on not getting beaten, now the emphasis for every team has to be a win. Three points makes such a difference. May be the remaining games of the season will be a little bit more open," he added.

--IANS

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