Kerala Blasters will be without sacked chief coach Rene Meulensteen, but the hosts will not be short on motivation when they host FC Pune City in an Indian Super League clash at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Thursday.
The hosts are without a manager after Rene Meulensteen and the club mutually decided to part ways.
Meulensteen, who had famously assisted Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, was brought in the summer to guide the last year’s finalist to the title this time around. But a run of unfavourable results led to his early departure.
With just one win from their first seven games, Kerala Blasters FC are struggling for form this season, but with their loyal fans throwing their weight behind the team a turnaround cannot be ruled out.
“Well, when the season started every team wanted to do well. So did we. But the results are there for everyone to see. But we are Kerala Blasters; we have the best fans. So, for now the most important thing is tomorrow’s game and get a right result for the fans,” Kerala Blasters FC assistant coach Thangboi Singto said during the pre-match media interaction.
Coming out on the wrong side of two consecutive Southern derbies didn’t help Meulensteen cause as Kerala drew against Chennaiyin FC and lost to Bengaluru FC.
Despite the departure of their high-profile coach, Kerala Blasters are likely to stick to the same strategy.
“In terms of our planning, we have to do what we have been doing. But what is most important is to score and not concede. They are all professional players and they know how it works,” said Singto.
While Kerala are facing trouble both on and off the pitch, things couldn’t have been any different for Ranko Popovic’s FC Pune City.
Pune’s away form has been spectacular this season and they are coming into this fixture on the back of two great results against FC Goa and North East United. But Vladica Grujic, FC Pune City assistant coach, said his side will show no complacency
“Every game is difficult. Maybe they are not in a good shape at the moment. We will have to concentrate on our game and not take anything lightly,” he said.
Pune will miss their coach Ranko Popovic who is serving a four-match ban.