Kochi: In the last home match of Indian Super League's (ISL) first schedule, Kerala Blasters FC will play for nothing less than a win on Friday when they host FC Pune City at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here. The teams, with only one win to their credit so far in the season, had played out a 1-1 draw when they met in Pune in November.
Though Pune is four points off Kerala Blasters who are anchored at seventh spot, their position is grimmer than that of their hosts. Play off chances of Pune, the only side to have beaten Jamshedpur FC (2-1) till now, is all but over – thanks to seven losses, two draws and a goal difference of -12. They flew in to Kochi after suffering a 2-1 loss at Bengaluru.
Kerala on the other hand would be all pumped up after the 1-1 draw against Jamshedpur. The Yellow Brigade brought out their 'A' game of the season to secure the draw and did that under pressure from their fans, Manjappada. Frustrated to see the poor performance from their team, most of the fans stayed away from Tuesday's match. However, the team played their hearts out in front of some 8,000 odd diehard fans.
If David James can keep his team motivated in the same fashion, there is a chance that Blasters fans would see their first home win of ISL season 5 on Friday. Keziron Kizito, who spearheaded Kerala attack against Jamshedpur till 40th minute, and Nikola Krcmarevic are unavailable for selection and it would make James' task tougher. On Tuesday, it looked as if he had ultimately found a XI he was long searching for.
Kerala would peg their hopes on Seiminlen Doungel who is in pristine form while Slavisa Stojanovic, who missed a couple of chances against Jamshedpur, would also have a go at the goal.
Pune would want Ian Hume to hit form against his old side. That would mean that Sandesh Jhingan and co would have a busy day at work. Hume getting in flight mode would also mean Pune's interim coach Pradhyum Reddy's job is half done as it would inspire Marcelinho, Diego Carlos and Marko Stankovic to find their mojo.
Pune will host FC Goa after this match while Kerala will fly to Mumbai to play the last match of this schedule.