A file photo of Chennaiyin FC players celebrating a goal. (ISL)
Kochi: Their campaign back on track after a poor start, Kerala Blasters take on a struggling Chennaiyin FC in a southern derby match of the Indian Super League football match.
Kerala did well to secure an important win against FC Goa in their last home clash and they are now at fifth spot in the league table with 12 points from nine matches.
Defending champions Chennaiyin on the other hand have slumped to the seventh spot after they suffered a 1-4 drubbing at the hands of Delhi Dynamos. They now have 10 points from eight matches.
The Sachin Tendulkar co-owned Kerala Blasters will have to put their best foot forward against Chennaiyin as they have never won against their southern rivals. They have played five matches against Chennaiyin and have lost three while drawing the other two.
There could also be tension in the air tomorrow after a fracas between the two teams in Chennai in the first leg. Chennaiyin head coach Marco Materazzi was suspended for “misconduct against opponents or persons other than match officials” and the atmosphere at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium is likely to be heated on Saturday.
Kerala head coach Steve Coppell has advised his players to play with a calm head.
“The message to my players is the same for every game. It’s not a good idea to play 10 versus 11. Discipline is vitally important. I think there was a misunderstanding in the last game,” said Coppell, referring to Materazzi’s riction with one of his player after the drawn encounter.
Coppell believes his side have no time to relax in their pursuit for a place in the semi-finals.
“Every game is a challenge, a fresh challenge. I look at the league and upsets are happening. Without doubt, any team in the league is capable of beating any other team. So you can never relax. You have to be at the top of your preparation,” said Coppell.
Chennaiyin will need to be at their best to get their campaign back on track after a demoralising 1-4 defeat against Delhi Dynamos in the previous game.
Materazzi has made an average of nearly four changes per match (30 changes in eight matches so far) and this has meant there is no stability in the team, apart from the back four.
“Football is a beautiful game. You have another chance right after this game. After one game, you have to focus on the next,” said Materazzi.
Materazzi has been with Chennaiyin since its inception in 2014 and is fully aware of the rivalry between the two teams. He is also aware of the boisterous support for Kerala at home, insisting that tomorrow “it’s going to be a beautiful game”.