KICK-OFF: Dec. 7, 7.30PM IST (GMT +5.30), Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi.
Channel; Streaming: Star Sports HD1, 1, 3; Hotstar, Jio TV.
Kerala Blasters will be desperately looking for a win against an equally desperate FC Pune City in a bottom-table skirmish between the two sides. Both teams have fallen by the wayside this season and have a grand total of one win each from the 10 games they’ve been involved in so far this season. The reverse fixture earlier in the season ended in a score draw.
Goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh remains the key player for Kerala and the back 4 with Sandesh Jhingan and Lakic-Pesic at the helm should be able to hold off the Pune City attack.
In attack, Len Doungel finally got himself a goal against Jamshedpur and will be the furrow through which the Kerala attack will flow. The team in yellow will hope the forwards Stojanovic, Poplatnik and the local boy CK Vineeth come good with a goal or two which will go a long way in securing three points tonight.
Saying Pune City have a goal in them can be construed in entirely the opposite manner. Pune have conceded the highest number of goals this season and scored the least.
In terms of goals conceded, they are on par with Chennaiyin FC in what has been a nightmare of a campaign for the two teams.
If Kerala has a habit of drawing games, then Pune have it worse – they’ve made a habit of losing games. They will have to pull out all stops to get something out of tonight’s game because at this moment, calling them underdogs might be an understatement.
FULL-TIME: Kerala Blasters 0-1 FC Pune City
20′ – GOAL! 0-1 (Marcelinho, Assist: A. Kuruniyan, FC Pune City)
Kerala Blasters: 89′ – Suraj Rawat (H. Narzary); 75′ Prasanth K (Courage Pekuson); 46′ CK Vineeth (S. Doungel).
FC Pune City: 78′ Martin Diaz (Nim Dorjee Tamang); 68′ Nikhil Poojari (A. Kuruniyan); 52′ Marko Stanokovic (Marcelinho).
FC Pune City picked up three points as Kerala dressed to impress but failed to muster anything beyond that.
Pune got the solitary goal that eventually won them the game early in the first half. Marcelinho had two great attempts on goal within the first quarter. For the first attempt, he was one on one with the keeper – he should’ve scored but the keeper Dheeraj Singh pulled off a fantastic save. The goal came in the 20th minute when a through ball from Ashique Kuruniyan found Marcelinho who took a left-footed shot which picked up a slight deflection and ended up in the far corner of the net.
A quick look at the xG graph from last night shows Kerala had a lot of shots on goal but they were mostly fantasy-ridden and hopeful at best. Their play going forward looked disjointed with players in unnatural positions in attack. That led to a lack of creativity in
Pune to their credit defended well and in numbers. The defender Matt Mills and the goalkeeper Kamaljit Singh turned in great performances for the Pune side. A worry for them after tonight’s game will be the injuries to Marcelinho and Ashique Kuruniyan especially as a tough match against FC Goa is on the cards in three days.