Only three teams, out of 11, are without a win so far at the Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 season. Kerala Blasters FC has an opportunity to bring that number down to two on Sunday, when it takes on Hyderabad FC at the GMC Stadium, Bambolim, Goa.
But the men from Kochi will need to come up with an improved display if they want to end their streak of six matches without a victory. They are languishing in the ninth place, with just three points, six less than their rival.
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There is room for improvement in every department, but Blasters would be particularly keen to tighten the defence: they have so far let in 11 goals; no team has conceded more.
Not that the defenders’ colleagues up front have fared any better. Blasters boast the dubious record for attempting the lowest number of shots.
Kibu Vicuna’s boys haven’t been able to create too many chances, either. But the coach sounded confident of a turnaround on the eve of the match.
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“We are improving and taking steps forward,” he said. “I have the confidence that we are going to play a good match.”
He, however, conceded that Hyderabad was a difficult opponent. “Hyderabad had positives in the last match (against Mumbai),” he pointed out. “They didn’t play badly but they lost. So yes, we are expecting a tough challenge but we have been training well.”
His counterpart, Manuel Marquez, returned the compliment. “They have very good players and maybe they deserve more points than they have,” said the Hyderabad coach.
“They have great players in all positions from the goalkeeper until the forwards and the coach (Vicuna) won the I-League last season. For sure, it will be an equal game.”
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If there is one Hyderabad player that is capable of ensuring that the points need not be equally divided at the end of the match, it is Aridane Santana.
With four goals, the Spanish striker is one of the leading scorers of the season. Blasters cannot afford to let him loose.