Both sides have key players missing from their squads and, on paper, look equally poised. However, the home advantage of Kerala Blasters FC could prove decisive in what we expect to be a closely fought encounter.
Mumbai City FC faced FC Pune City, in what was the opening game for either side in this season’s Hero ISL. It was the ‘Maha’ derby, and the sides went all out for a win as the winner would hold the bragging rights for the remainder of the season. Mumbai City FC lost 3-1 on the night to the neighbour, FC Pune City, who outplayed and dominated the proceedings. The Blue Citizens’ defense proved shaky as they let three goals past them. the game was reminiscent of last season where their backline leaked 21 goals as against the 12 goals scored. Mumbai number two Oscar Bruzon said that he wasn’t worried about the goals. His immediate concern was how the defense leaked in three goals. Kerala Blasters FC seem to have reinvented themselves as an attacking side this season, and Mumbai City FC will have a tough time tackling their rivals. If Anelka’s Mumbai expect to come away with any sort of result against Kerala they will need to convert their chances into goals, and shore up their defense. Peter Taylor, on the other hand, will be pleased with his team’s start to this campaign. He would also be wary about the match-up against Mumbai, because he would know better than most how dangerous Mumbai City FC manager-cum-player Nicolas Anelka can be, should the experienced Frenchman take to the field.
The Blasters, however, are on a high following their win, and will be confident ahead of the fixture. Former Arsenal striker Sanchez Watt could be the possible danger man with his finesse and direct runs at the opposition. Striker Mohammed Rafi will also be looking to influence the game, having bagged a goal and an assist in Kerala’s last match to go along with his contribution in the middle of the park. The last season’s finalists did not win against the Blue Citizens even once, not even scoring a goal and will look to change that in the upcoming match.
Kerala Blasters FC team news
Kerala’s marquee player Carlos Marchena didn’t feature in their opening fixture and it is likely that Saturday’s game might be too early for him to make an appearance. There may not be any changes made to the starting line-up, with the same eleven likely to be named for the match against the Blue Citizens.
Peter Rampage has picked up an injury, however, and may not feature in the starting line-up. Sandhesh Jhingan and Cavin Lobo will not be available for the match as they are still away on international duty with India, who is scheduled to play Oman on the 13th this month. Key midfielder Peter Carvalho is ruled of the clash having picked up an injury, and will be replaced with either CK Vineeth or Shankar Sampingiraj.
Mumbai City FC team news
Mumbai will remain without Sunil Chhetri and Subrata Paul, who are with the Indian National team. Midfielders Brandon Fernandes and Sampath Kuttimany will miss out because of injuries, while player-manager Anelka, who is completely fit, may start the match. It is unlikely, though, that Anelka would start the match, and in the event that Anelka does not start, we would see Frederic Piquionne named in the starting line-up.
There are likely to be changes in the starting line-up, and it will be interesting to see whether Mumbai go with young goalkeeper, Albino Gomes, or opt for the slightly more experienced Debjit Majumder, who won the I-League with Mohun Bagan last season. Assistant manager Bruzon is keen to face Kerala in Kochi, although Mumbai’s squad has been depleted owing to injuries, unavailability of players and an under-perfroming defense.
What the managers said:
Kerala boss, Peter Taylor, when queried said, "When a team gets beat, they are more determined the next time and that makes the game harder for us". He also claims that Mumbai would be up for the game and Kerala will need to match them.
Mumbai assistant coach Oscar Bruzon stated that this match will be a different battle from Pune. He opined, "The Kerala crowd is passionate about football, and there will be a big crowd tomorrow, so for the Blue Citizens it is a big, but beautiful challenge". The assistant coach also defended his full-backs saying that the goals they conceded against Pune were not solely the fault of the two Full-backs, and that he expects less of a threat from the wings against Kerala.
2nd November, 2014: Mumbai City FC 1-0 Kerala Blasters FC
12th November, 2014: Kerala Blasters FC 0-0 Mumbai City FC
Kerala Blasters FC 2-1 Mumbai City FC
Kerala’s home support should prove a vital factor in this game. Coupled with the fact that they have never netted against this opposition, Kerala will be all the more determined to see the ball hit the back of the net. Both sides will be up for the game, but Kerala do possess a stronger squad than Mumbai at this moment. Kerala’s home advantage should see them edge out their opponents, in what will be an enthralling game.
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