Seated upright in his chair with a wide smile on his face, Steve Coppell looked as if he had just come out of a yoga session. The former English winger was extremely calm knowing very well that Friday’s encounter against Mumbai City FC could well prove to be a make or break situation for his side.
“Every game now is crucial because every team is capable of still qualifying for the playoffs. We’re going to play against a very good team. Mumbai have invested a lot in their team, they have some superb players. We know we’ll have to play well to get something from the game. You win two games and people have a different perspective on your season,” he said.
Apart from Delhi Dynamos, none of the other teams have managed to notch up 3 wins in a row this season - a record that Kerala Blasters can equal tomorrow if they manage to beat Mumbai. Coppell shared his reasons as to why winning matches on the trot is extremely difficult in the Indian Super League.
“I think it’s difficult because all the teams are very close in terms of ability and performance. The travelling makes a difference and difference in training facilities as well. It’s very demanding physically for the players. You’d probably say Delhi look like the best team at the moment,” he stated.
Bengaluru FC players have had a huge impact
The former Manchester City manager spoke about the huge impact that the Bengaluru FC players have had on his side.
“In a league where you’re not allowed to make mid-season signings, for us (arrival of Vineeth and Rino from Bengaluru) was like signing two new players. Psychologically it was important and it’s made a big difference. They’re two players who can play in most of the teams in the Indian Super League,” he explained
The Kerala Blasters coach believes tomorrow’s game against Mumbai City FC will be a clash of styles and he expects the home side to tweak their traditional strategy of playing football.
“I think we’re totally different in our make-up. I wouldn’t like to pigeon hole either team, both teams are flexible and can play in different ways. The premium now at this stage is on winning games. Maybe all the teams might adjust their style a little bit.
“Initially, the emphasis was on not getting beaten, now the emphasis is on winning. The remaining games of the season might be a little bit more open,” he added.
Vineeth feels it’s a team effort
Also present at the press conference was the inform C.K. Vineeth, who’s managed make an instant impact with his goals for Kerala. The forward was asked if the pressure of being a match winner now hovers over his head, to which he replied, “I haven’t heard anything like that. Our defence is working hard, they’ve won the match for us, not me. I just scored a few goals and I think it’s by sheer luck.”
Lastly, the coach warned that his side should be watchful of the attacking threat that Mumbai possess, “You look at their forward line and they’ve invested a lot- Forlan, Chhetri, Norde and Defederico. In any standard of football, they’re good players but I have good players too.”