Simon Grayson’s Men Look To Continue Charge Even As Kerala Aim To Confirm Playoff Spot
Bengaluru: Bengaluru FC ready themselves for a home run as they welcome Kerala Blasters to the Kanteerava Stadium for the first of their final three League fixtures, all of which they play at the Fortress. The Blues, who have won their last five games in a row, will look to add impetus to their playoff hopes with a win against the Men in Yellow.
“We’re in a positive frame of mind with the recent results and performances. The players feel confident. The game tomorrow is another big step for us to get where we want to be. I’m really looking forward to the game and expect it to be an unbelievable atmosphere at the stadium as well,” said Blues Head Coach Simon Grayson, addressing the media ahead of the game on Saturday.
Both sides come into Saturday night’s fixture having won their previous games 2-1, with the Blues winning away to ATK Mohun Bagan, while Kerala Blasters saw off Chennaiyin FC. Saturday will be the 12th meeting between the two sides in the Indian Super League. In the 11 meetings so far, the Blues have won six while there have been three draws in this fixture. Basters triumphed 3-2 when the two sides met earlier in the season in Kochi, with Sunil Chhetri and Javi Hernandez scoring for the Blues.
“I got a sample of the rivalry between the two teams in Kochi. As a team, we need to ensure that we play with our minds and our hearts, and show the passion and desire required for any ISL game. We didn’t play well in the first half when we last played them. But, tomorrow is another chance to get the three points that matter. As a team, we need to think about executing the game plans that we’ve worked on,” Grayson replied.
The Blues will look to keep the trio of Dimitrios Diamantakos, Ivan Kaliuzhnyi and Adrian Luna at bay. Diamantakos is the highest scorer for Kerala Blasters this season with nine goals to his name, while Luna is the highest assist provider in the squad with six assists. The Uruguayan has also created 43 chances, the highest in Ivan Vukomanovic’s side and the third highest in the League.
Speaking on the fixture, Grayson opined “There are no easy games in this League regardless of the opposition being top or bottom of the division. We have to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition we play next, work to win the game and then move on to the next game.”
The Blues boss will not have Suresh Singh Wangjam available for selection as the midfielder picked up his fourth yellow card of the season in the previous game against ATK Mohun Bagan. The absence of the influential midfielder could provide an opportunity for players like Bruno Ramires who can be a force in the middle of the park.
The Englishman will once again bank on his forwards, Sivasakthi and Roy Krishna, to continue their good run of form. The Fijian will particularly relish playing Ivan Vukomanovic’s side against whom he has scored four goals in seven games in the League.
“I’m confident that someone will come in and do Suresh’s job. We have a lot of players who have been waiting for that opportunity. Our bench is strong and they could help us win. Otherwise, the team doesn’t change if things are going well. Roy and Siva have played for the last five games and you can see the confidence they have. The same can be said for our midfield and defence. It’s all about creating a settled team,” Grayson mused, when asked about the absence of the midfielder and how it might affect the balance of the side.
A win on Saturday will take the Blues to 28 points, leaving them just three points behind Ivan Vukomanovic’s side in the league standings, who currently sit third in the ISL points table with 31 points.
Kick-off between the two sides is scheduled for 7:30 pm IST on Saturday, and will be telecast live on the STAR Sports Network, Disney+Hotstar and JioTV.