Kochi: Kerala Blasters face a tricky test against Jamshedpur FC in their second match of Indian Super League Season 4 here on Friday. Blasters were lucky to escape with a point from their drawn opening encounter against defending champions ATK. New entrants Jamshedpur, too, played out a goalless draw against NorthEast United in an away tie in their opening fixture.
Blasters will be wary of Jamshedpur, coached by Steve Coppell. The Englishman was instrumental in Blasters making it to the title clash last year. Coppell is a calming influence and a fine strategist.
Blasters coach Rene Meulenteen will be looking forward to a much-improved performance from his boys in front of a packed crowd. ATK did well to silence the Yellow Army and Coppell has said that his men hoped to do the same on the match day.
Blasters' midfield and forward line failed to impress against ATK. Ghanaian youngster Courage Pekuson shone in patches with his pace, but Blasters will need the midfield duo of Milan Singh and Arata Izumi to fire as well.
Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov and his Canadian strike partner Iain Hume were totally off-color against ATK. But both Berbatov and Hume are proven performers and the duo will be eager to bounce back.
Blasters have traditionally been slow to get off the blocks and the team management will be fully aware of it.
Coppell employed midfielders Sameehg Doutie and Trinidade Goncalves in the attack with Izu Azuka as the lone striker up front against NorthEast. Coppell, who took Mehtab Hossain and Kervens Belfort with him from Blasters, fielded Mehtab in the opener while the Haitian striker was benched.
The key for Blasters will be to find an early goal and that should the settle the nerves and keep the crowd going. The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium is Blasters' fortress and they will be banking on getting maximum points from their home games to push forward for the elusive crown this season.
C K Vineeth's goals went a long way in taking Blasters to the final last season and Jamshedpur will be eager to keep the pacey winger in check.