Kerala Blasters coach Steve Coppell believes his team has a very good chance of qualification to semi-finals of Hero Indian Super League if they play to their potential against FC Pune City at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi, on Friday. Kerala Blasters are outside the top four for now with 15 points from 11 matches but a win against Pune, placed fourth with the same number of points but a better goal difference will push them to the second spot, behind league leaders Mumbai City FC.
Coppell knows the importance of pocketing victory with just three matches left to be played and will be encouraged with the team’s impressive performances at home. Kerala Blasters have conceded just three goals at home, the joint lowest along with Mumbai City, and they are the only team to have won three back-to-back matches at home. Since losing the opening game at home against Atletico de Kolkata, Kerala Blasters are on a four-match unbeaten streak at home.
“After 11 games, we are still in a position to qualify. If we play to our potential, then we have a very good chance to be in the play-offs. That was our target at the beginning of the season. After (the first) three games, people would have said we don’t have a good chance (with just one point). But then we fought back, worked hard and tried to be tight. When we lost, we didn’t overreact and when we won, similarly, we didn’t overreact. Teams will only be judged after 14 games,” said Coppell.
Kerala Blasters were hammered 0-5 by Mumbai City in the previous game but Coppell feels the result will not have any bearing in their next match. “That’s finished now. We learnt what we can from that game. We respect Mumbai. They are a good team. They are proving to be possibly the form team but that’s finished. We are looking forward to the next one against Pune,” said Coppell.
Pune City are facing a must-win situation with 15 points from 12 matches. They are placed fourth for now but failure to win maximum points in their next two matches could result in elimination.
“It’s important (to win) because there are six, seven teams who want to be in the play-offs. Also Goa, if they win against Atletico de Kolkata, they have a chance. For us, after the defeat in Guwahati, it’s important to win,” said assistant coach David Moliner, who attended the pre-match media briefing because coach Antonio Habas was unwell with cough and fever.
A defeat for FC Pune City would mean they can accrue, at most, 18 points. No team has ever managed to get into the semi-finals with less than 19 points in the history of ISL, leaving the visitors with no choice but breach the Kerala fortress and stay on track for qualification.
Kerala Blasters vs FC Pune City Prediction
FC Pune City are on a high, but Kerala are a different beast at home, and I firmly expect them to pip the Maharashtra outfit.
Kerala Blasters vs FC Pune City Live Stream Info
The game can be watched live on the Hotstar App (only in India)