Kerala Blasters would look to forget their last match drubbing at the hands of Mumbai City FC and return to winning ways when they take on Atletico de Kolkata in an Indian Super League football fixture here tomorrow.
Kerala 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 in the top four again.
Head coach Steve 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 have conceded just three goals at home, the joint lowest along with Mumbai, and they are the only team to have won three back-to-back matches at home. Since losing the opening game at home against ATK, Kerala are on a four-match unbeaten streak at home.
Coppell believes his team has a very good chance of qualifying for the semi-finals.
“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. But then we fought back, worked hard. When we lost, we did not overreact and when we won, similarly, we did not overreact. Teams will only be judged after 14 games,” said Coppell.
Kerala were hammered 0-5 by Mumbai in their previous game but Coppell feels that result will not have any bearing tomorrow.
“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 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 Pune 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.