Today’s game sees Steve Coppell (and others) return to their former club as ISL new boys Jamshedpur head to Kochi to face the hotly tipped Kerala Blasters.
Both teams drew 0-0 in the opening round of games, making today’s clash vital.
Kerala Head Coach Rene Muelensteen is believed to be considering a slight change in shape and position for Dimitar Berbatov.
“(It has been) only one game and the technical team is accessing the player’s role in the team” said Muelensteen.
“The first match is all about the anxiety of the new season, and the performance is only a concern when it repeats for a few games.”
The former Manchester United assistant might switch to a back three for the match and is also unlikely to risk Wes Brown who still has a slight problem with his calf.
“We don’t want to lose players for three or four weeks and we’d rather wait and be careful than sort of gamble and lose him”.
Meulensteen was also under no illusions about what Jamshedpur are likely to bring to the table.
“I expect them to be fairly direct. We have to be very alert. It’s good to get the first game out of the way. We’re up for it. We know what the stadium can bring is. We want to be as positive as we can. It will be a challenge for sure”.
Jamshedpur midfielder Mehtab Hossain hit out at the ISL draft system that denied him the chance to playing for his first choice team this season.
“The problem is very bad rules like the draft. Any team can pick you. I wanted to come [to Kerala Blasters] this year also.”
“The Kerala Blasters owner talked to me. They wanted to retain me and Sandesh or me and Vineeth. They then decided to retain Vineeth and Sandesh. Because they didn’t have an option. Vineeth is from Kerala and Sandesh is the backbone of the defence.”
It was strong words from a man who is expected to be pivotal to Steve Coppell and Jamshedpur this season.
Coppell led Kerala to the final last season and says he is pleased to be heading back to Kochi for the match.
“I am glad to be back. I got a nice reception from the people of Kochi and it is nice to be remembered. Of course we are looking to go for the win for sure. It’s literally just a question of who do we play next in this case”.
Coppell is well liked at Kerala, but will that still be the case after the match?
The match is likely to be a closely contested battle. Jamshedpur are built on a solid defensive framework and despite Muelensteen talking up the attacking prowess of Kerala we actually saw very sound defensive foundations when they played a ball-hungry ATK last Friday.
If either team gets a win it will be hard earned.