Football

A do-or-die game for Blasters, Pune

Crucial game: For, Keral Blaster to make it to the semifinal, a lot of factors will come into play the most ofcourse a win against Pune team seen pracitsing. Photo: H. Vibhu

Crucial game: For, Keral Blaster to make it to the semifinal, a lot of factors will come into play the most ofcourse a win against Pune team seen pracitsing. Photo: H. Vibhu  

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As the Kerala Blasters FC players try to focus on Tuesday’s must-win against Pune City FC at the Nehru Stadium here and attempt to progress to the Hero Indian Super League semifinals, a lot of things could distract their heads.

For, a lot of factors will come into play if the Kochi side is to join semifinal party.

Permutations and combinations

The Blasters, which is in the fifth spot with 16 points, will not only have to win against Pune (also with 16 points but on the sixth rung) but also hope that table topper Chennaiyin defeats or draws against Delhi in the first of Tuesday’s two ISL games.

“It doesn’t feel good to be in that precarious position where we could finish third or we could finish eighth,” said David James, the Blasters marquee player and head coach, on Monday. Whatever happens after our game, or even before, is out of our control.”

The Blasters won its away game against Pune 2-1 at the end of October but that was a phase when the Kochi side had its tail up.

But now, the Blasters are on a poor run. It lost two of its last three games and drew goalless in its last outing against NorthEast United.

Big worry

The home side, which has made the least number of goals in the ISL with just eight from 13 games, has not scored a single goal in its previous three games and that certainly is a big worry. “I’d actually like my defenders to score. It doesn’t have to be the strikers,” said James, the team’s star goalkeeper.

But despite his rival’s poor shooting record, Pune head coach Franco Colomba said that he has a lot of respect for the Blasters.

“Of course, if they don’t score it will be good for us but we have a lot of respect for them.”

Thankfully, it’s a do-or-die game tomorrow and Pune, like the home side, also needs to win to be in contention for a last-four berth.

Pune, coming here after a heartbreaking loss to Delhi Dynamos with an 88th-minute goal, will be without Lenny Rodrigues after the international midfielder picked his fourth yellow card of the tournament.

The Blasters will have to keep a close watch on Pune’s Nigerian forward Dudu Omagbemi and on the tricky Korean winger Park Kwang-II.

And, of course, they will be anxiously watching other games too.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 7:53:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/indian-super-league-2014-a-doordie-game-for-kerala-blasters-fc-pune-city-fc/article6674151.ece

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