Following a mediocre home run in the season so far, Mumbai City FC will hope to turn things around when they host Kerala Blasters in a crucial fixture of the Indian Super League here on Saturday.
Mumbai and Kerala have identical numbers on board — nine goals scored, eight conceded, four wins and three defeats. The Blasters have a game in hand and will hope to go on top of the table. Mumbai are tantalisingly close to a maiden play-off berth but they have a few problems to tackle first.
Placed second, Mumbai City FC have won just one home game this season while their poor form upfront saw them score just three goals in their last six matches. They have scored just two goals at home, the lowest by an ISL team this season.
Coach Alexandre Guimaraes, however, isn’t worried. “Up front, we have all very good, high quality players. It’s a matter of patience. It happens in football. The main thing for these players is that they have chances. I know, sooner than later, they will convert more than what they have been doing,” he said.
On being asked why the team has failed to capitalise at home, the Costa Rican added: “It isn’t like we played badly. We just didn’t get the points as there were games in which we had to play with 10 men, cope with injuries, etc. We did create chances and thus we weren’t disappointed as we knew we played well.”
On the contrary, Kerala Blasters, who had handed Mumbai their first defeat this season, are in a sparkling form with striker CK Vineeth leading the charge. While he came off the bench to score the winner against FC Goa, he scored a late brace against Chennaiyin in their last game to help his team climb to the third spot.
Blasters coach Steve Coppell was happy to have the striker back in his squad from Bengaluru FC’s AFC Cup campaign. “Vineeth’s impact has been substantial,” he said. “In a league where we’re not allowed to have mid-season signings, it was like signing two good players (Vineeth and Rino Ante).”
Coppell, who saw his side win their last two games in convincing fashion, wasn’t ready to take things easy. “We’re playing against a very good team. They have some super players. We know we’ll have to play well to get three points,” he said. “At this stage, every game is crucial and we’ll have to give our best in every game. It’s still all to play for. Every team can qualify for the play-offs.”