Kerala Blasters FC, buoyed by a 3-1 win against RoundGlass Punjab FC in their opening game, will look to make it two in two as they face off against a well-drilled Sreenidi Deccan FC team in the second round of the Hero Super Cup at the EMS Corporation Stadium, in Kozhikode, on Wednesday.

The Blasters got their campaign off to a convincing start but there will be no complacency going into the game against the Hero I-League runners-up. Sreenidi Deccan FC come into this game on the back of a 1-1 draw against Hero ISL finalists Bengaluru FC and they will be looking to register their first win in the Hero Super Cup.

The Hero I-League outfit can pack a punch on their day and will need to put in their best efforts to stand a chance against the mighty Tuskers. They will certainly be encouraged by their performance in the opening game and will look to play with the same intensity against Kerala Blasters FC.

Sreenidi Deccan Head Coach Carlos Manuel Vaz Pinto believes that the game against Bengaluru FC is a thing of the past and now they’re completely focusing on the next game.

“Process and efforts put in by the team (against Bengaluru FC) were enough to make them feel confident for the next tie (against Kerala Blasters FC),” said Pinto.

The home crowd will play its part in the hotly anticipated encounter and Pinto believes playing on home soil will be advantageous for the Tuskers. He said, “We need to be ready for this challenge not only on the field but off it as well. We need to be organised, competitive and focused on overcoming the challenge.”

When quizzed about the opponents, Pinto heaped praise on the Hero ISL side and claimed them as “favourites” going into the tie. But the Portuguese head coach asserted that they will follow their principles and have a definite plan ready for the game.

Meanwhile, Kerala Blasters FC should feel confident after a dominating performance in their last game and they will certainly look to ride on to that momentum. A win will take them one step closer to the semi-final spot while Sreenidi Deccan FC will need to win their remaining two games to keep their qualification hopes alive.

Bengaluru FC face RoundGlass Punjab FC challenge 

Bengaluru FC will look to get their first win of the 2023 Super Cup when they face RoundGlass Punjab FC in their second Group A encounter, at the EMS Stadium, in Kozhikode, on Wednesday. The Blues, who began their campaign with a 1-1 draw against Sreenidi Deccan last Saturday, will look to get three points on board to boost their chances of making it to the knockout round, ahead of their final encounter against the Kerala Blasters.

“There were positives from the last game including (Lalremtluanga) Fanai’s debut. Each game we need to be better than the last one, so everyone’s focused and knows what needs to be done. The mood is positive and we’ve got some good team spirit going on as well,” said Bengaluru FC head coach Simon Grayson on the eve of the fixture, which will also be the first competitive meeting between the two sides.

Punjab, who were crowned champions of the 2022-23 Hero I-League, started their campaign with a 3-1 defeat against Kerala Blasters FC in their opening fixture. But, Staikos Vergetis’ side contain a good balance of experience and youth and have proven their credentials in the Hero I-League last season. The Warriors conceded only 16 goals and kept 11 clean sheets in the Hero I-League last season, the best defensive record in the division.

Bengaluru FC will bank on the services of Sunil Chhetri, Roy Krishna and Javi Hernandez, who started the Blues’ Super Cup opener and contributed to as many as half of the Blues’ goals in the Indian Super League. The clash between the Blues backline and Punjab’s attacking duo of Luka Majcen (16 goals) and Juan Mera (10 goals) will be one to watch out for.

“RoundGlass Punjab are a very good team. They won the league last season and although they lost their last game, they have some good players and play good football, so we won’t be taking the game lightly,” said Grayson when asked about the Blues’ opponents.

Not one to tinker with his squad, it remains to be seen if Grayson makes any changes to his eleven to start the clash on Wednesday. “We will assess and see who is available and who isn’t to see if chances can be given to some other players as well, because we have good strength on our bench as well, with players like Udanta (Singh) and Pablo (Perez),” said Grayson.

The two teams will await the result in the game between Kerala Blasters FC and Sreenidi Deccan FC, which is set to happen at 5 PM and could have a bearing on the later game. Nonetheless, a win on Wednesday night will take Simon Grayson’s men to four points, which would keep them in the hunt for a spot in the knockouts.