Off to a less than perfect start to their Indian Super League (ISL) campaign, FC Pune City will need to improve their game by a couple of notches when they meet Kerala Blasters FC at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium in Pune on Monday.
FC Pune City assistant coach Miguel insists that his team prepared adequately for life without chief coach Antonio Habas who was suspended for the first four matches of this ISL edition.
But since the ISL kicked off, FC Pune City have found themselves in a spot of bother.
They have three points from three matches and will have to take their game to a different level to arrest the consecutive losses at home as they host Kerala Blasters.
Pune were given renewed confidence after scoring a 90th minute winner against FC Goa in an away encounter but at home, they have been unable to secure a single point, losing to Mumbai City FC and then going down against NorthEast United FC in the last game.
“We need to improve in all areas. I can’t say one area we need to improve in, we need to improve in many areas. But it is our job. We will work hard and we will improve,” the assistant coach said.
FC Pune City will miss the services of Eduardo Fereira for the clash against Kerala Blasters after the defender was sent off against NorthEast United FC. The defensive duties were then assigned to marquee Mohamed Sissoko and the former Liverpool midfielder did an appreciable job.
“Sissoko’s performances have been good. He played well in both positions, in central midfield and centre back,” Miguel said.
Habas will have to sit out for one final game to serve his four-match suspension but it could be difficult for him to watch his team again from the stands in Pune as Kerala Blasters will be high on confidence after securing their first win in the league and that too against high-flying Mumbai City FC.
Kerala Blasters were struggling with form ahead of their fourth-round clash against Mumbai but a second-half goal from Michael Chopra has changed the mood dramatically.
“I don’t believe in setting up targets. Game by game I try to plan and win the game. The goal that Atletico de Kolkata scored against us was a deflected shot. It seemed a little cruel to us. But the points would obviously make a difference. That’s how it is,” said Kerala Blasters manager Steve Coppell.
“Every game is going to come thick and fast now, so we have to collect as many points as possible. Once we come into rhythm we will keep winning.”
Kerala Blasters have kept two clean sheets in a row and will be hugely encouraged by the central defensive partnership of marquee Aaron Hughes and Cedric Hengbart, both of whom look in fine form.