What's the story?
Kerala Blasters' right back Rino Anto is set to miss the crucial ISL clash against Bengaluru FCon New Year's Eve after the fullback picked up an injury in their last match against Chennaiyin FC.
In case you didn't know...
Rino Anto was injured in the match against the Chennaiyin FC at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium Chennai when coach Rene Meulensteen had brought on Samuel Shadap in his place. Later Kerala Blasters coach had confirmed that the right-back has a hamstring issue.
The heart of the matter
On the eve of the match, Meulensteen confirmed that it is likely to take around two to three weeks for Anto to get back to full fitness.
"The injury is not as serious as we thought. Initially, we thought he would be out for three to four weeks but Rino has started recovery and will be ready to play in a couple of weeks," said Meulensteen.
Even though the Kerala-born star will miss Sunday's game, it will come ass some relief to the fans, as he unlikely to sit out for too long.
Another injury concern for Kerala Blasters was their Bulgarian star Dimitar Berbatov, who was taken off in the 4th minute against FC Goa. However, much to the relief of the Kerala fans, Meulensteen updated that Berbatov has had a couple of good training session from last week and the team is accessing the striker's condition.
The rivalry between the Kerala Blasters and the Bengaluru FC fans has been brewing for quite some time, and it will be interesting to see how the atmosphere at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi will be on Sunday, especially as a large contingent of Blues' supporters are said to have made their way to the neighbouring state for the match.
Kerala Blasters have a good squad strength and this can neutralise the loss Rino Anto. However, the fullback has been instrumental for them in the few goals they have scored this season, and it will be interesting to see how they cope with his absence.