KOCHI: The match between Kerala Blasters and Pune City FC comes at a crucial juncture in their campaign for both the clubs. Kerala are on their longest winless streak in the ISL after ten games while Pune City FC are enduring one of their worst seasons. The two cross paths at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, Kochi on Friday. Surprisingly, the Blasters haven’t won a single match at their home this season. Head coach David James confessed his team had started flirting with borderline superstitions when efforts are not rewarded with results.
“It is very difficult as a coach when now and again bad decisions determine the results. It’s happened too many times this season and it does eat away at the player’s confidence. I won’t say it’s superstition but some start wearing different shoes or start changing their hairstyles,” James said. The 1-1 draw against Jamshedpur FC was played in front of a small gathering. Often labelled as the best fans in the country, they staged a boycott after seeing the team’s worst ever run. However, the game turned out to be one of their better performances. “We had a very good performance against Jamshedpur. If it hadn’t been us and it was Bengaluru FC, then everybody would say how a great team they are.
But it was Kerala Blasters and we haven’t won in the last nine games. So everything is desperate and it is one of those funny things,” he added. A home win still eludes them. But facing a team whom they have dominated over the years could change that. Pune City has beaten Kerala Blasters just once in the nine encounters between them so far. “We have to go for a win because it is one of the last two games before the big break. We need to get three points and then think about Christmas,” James said.
Meanwhile, Pune appears to have all but given up on any playoff hopes. They are ninth in the table with the worst defence in the league. The goals aren’t coming and they have struggled with suspensions and injuries.“The international break is a welcome relief for us. It will be like a second preseason for us. Ian Hume did not have a good pre-season due to injury and this would be a great time for him to properly settle down.
Our remaining performances will help us prepare the next season,” Pune City FC coach Pradyum Reddy said. James is expected to field the same starting XI who drew against Jamshedpur. He would be hoping that he has finally found a winning formula that will help them move up the standings. Meanwhile, Sandesh Jhingan, Anas Edathodika and Halicharan Narzary would look to shake off any rustiness and be ready for the Asia Cup.