Kochi: It’s time for the big match in the Indian Super League. Big not just for the fans, but also for the teams. On Sunday, Kerala Blasters FC will take on Bengaluru FC in what has been billed as the second Southern Derby (Bengaluru-Chennaiyin being the other).
As it stands, every game has become crucial so both teams would be hoping to get a right result but there is a little bit of pride at stake here.
Acknowledging the importance of the game, Kerala Blasters coach René Meulensteen said, “Well, we have to treat this match as one with a little bit of a special edge. It has a derby feel to it. That’s good. I have heard the fans talk about it so we are looking forward to the game.”
For Bengaluru, a win will take them to the second spot in the league standings with 15 points. On the other hand, Meulensteen’s side will be searching for only their second win of the season.
Last season’s runners-up, Kerala Blasters have found it hard to get going this time around in ISL so far. With just one win and four draws from their six games, they have only picked up seven points and are placed eighth. Injuries to key players has also not helped Kerala’s cause. The availability of star striker Dimitar Berbatov for Sunday’s is still in question.
Commenting on Berbatov’s fitness, Meulensteen said, “He has got a good day’s training behind him. But we’ll still have to assess him. So let us see.”
Kerala’s opponents, Bengaluru FC, have also suffered a dip in form recently after making a fast start in their debut ISL season. Albert Roca’s side has lost two successive games, and a trip to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kaloor on Sunday to play in front of the roaring ‘Yellow Army’ is going to be a daunting task.
Bengaluru FC assistant coach Naushad Moosa, who attended the pre-match press conference in place of Roca, told reporters that his side’s recent losses have been due to the competition getting tougher.
“If you see what happened is that we started quite early. We started in July. We had the AFC Cup and other commitments which were good for us. The other teams have now started to gel and that’s making it difficult. Also, we have been playing a lot of games away from home. The competition has become tougher,” he said.
Moosa also said the game against Kerala is going to be a very tough one for his side. “They are playing good and the crowds will also play a role.”