ISL 2017/18: Kerala Blasters' Dimitar Berbatov may feature against FC Pune City after impressing in training
Kerala Blasters face the Stallions in a must-win game for the David James managed side.
Two of the most talked about teams in the Indian Super League this season are set to clash against one other as FC Pune City play host to Kerala Blasters. The home side are coming into this game after winning both of their previous games and have lost just one of their last six matches.
Kerala Blasters under David James started well, going on a three-match unbeaten run. But two consecutive defeats dampened the mood around the Blasters camp. A comeback win against Delhi Dynamos in the previous game can prove to be a turning point for the Kochi side which was also emphasized by James in his press conference.
"The defeat to FC Goa was tough and left us in a position where we had to win six games in a row so the Delhi win was very important. Confidence in the players was good and it put us one step ahead in the quest to win the remaining games," said James.
Kerala can take heart in the fact that they have lost just once against Pune until now, a 3-2 loss back in 2015, and won four times in seven instances.
Meanwhile, FC Pune City are unbeaten in their last three home matches and currently have the second-best defence in the ISL with just 12 goals conceded. Ranko Popovic, when asked about his side's solid defence, was cautious to garner praise on his players and maintained that his team are still trying to find the right balance.
The Serbian gaffer also added that he likes to continue with the same lineups for his side but is not permitted because of the hectic schedule. He also added that the Stallions have a few players doubtful for tomorrow's game. Popovic also added that Emiliano Alfaro has not yet asked for a rest in any league game and is himself keen on starting every game for Pune.
For Blasters, David James revealed that Dimitar Berbatov looked fantastic in training and has a chance to feature tomorrow. The Englishman also revealed that the star of the win over Delhi Dynamos, Deependra Singh Negi, will not be involved tomorrow as the management are set to take their time to adjust the youngster to the league's demands. Also, the Blasters manager remained coy on the rumours linking Nilmar with a move to Kochi and held all his cards close to his chest.
Both the sides need to win tomorrow's game but are running for altogether different causes at the moment. FC Pune City are safely placed in the third spot and are looking to finish the league phase as high in the table as possible. As far as the Blasters are concerned, every match is now a final for them.