Pune look to kickstart season against Kerala

After a disappointing start to Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2018-19, FC Pune City will be hoping to register their first victory of the season when they host Kerala Blasters FC at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium in Pune on Friday. The Stallions parted company with manager Miguel Portugal last week before suffering a damaging defeat to Goa. Kerala, on the other hand, will want to end their run of draws with an away triumph.

FC PUNE CITY

One of the primary reasons for Pune’s slump this season has been their inability to defend. The Stallions have conceded 10 goals so far – the joint-highest along with Chennaiyin FC. They are also the only side, apart from ATK, who have failed to keep a clean sheet this season.

In addition to defensive concerns, Pune’s usual suspects in attack haven’t been delivering as expected. Pune went without a goal in only three out of 18 games in the 2017-18 campaign. This season, however, has already seen them fail to score in two out of four matches. Marcelinho and Emiliano Alfaro will have to step up to the plate against the Blasters to get their side out of this rut. Interim coach Pradyum Reddy will also be wary of the fact that in the eight encounters between the two sides, Pune have come out on top just once. Things are looking bleak for the Stallions and only a victory will lift their spirits.

Here’s a look at Pune’s season in numbers:

KERALA BLASTERS FC

After an impressive victory against ATK in the opening match of the season, Kerala have not looked the same. David James’ side have conceded four points from winning positions this campaign but did well to come back against Jamshedpur in their last fixture to salvage a point. Against a deflated Pune side, James will be hoping his troops give their all and claim three points.

The forward pairing of CK Vineeth and Slavisla Stojanovic will be crucial to the side’s attack. Vineeth’s equaliser against Jamshedpur made him the club’s all-time leading goal-scorer with 11 goals. Seiminlen Doungel warrants a starting berth after his stunning second half cameo was the catalyst for Kerala’s comeback against Jamshedpur. In defence Anas Edathodika could make his debut for the club if deemed fit enough to start. Looking at the strength of their squad, Kerala will expect nothing less than three points on Friday.

Here’s a look at Kerala’s season in numbers:

PROBABLE LINE-UPS:

FC PUNE CITY: Vishal Kaith (GK), Ashutosh Mehta, Matt Mills, Gurtej Singh, Lalchhuanmawia Fanai, Jonathan Vila, Marko Stankovic, Ashique Kuruniyan, Marcelinho, Robin Singh, Emiliano Alfaro (C)

KERALA BLASTERS FC:  Naveen Kumar (GK), Mohamad Rakip, Sandesh Jhingan (C), Anas Edathodika, Lalruatthara, Nikola Krcmarevic, Sahal Abdul Samad, Seiminlen Doungel, CK Vineeth, Slavisla Stojanovic, Matej Poplatnik

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Pune have lost their last three matches while Kerala have drawn their last three matches.
  • Pune are the only team who haven’t scored a goal at home this season.
  • Kerala have scored six goals so far, four of them have been away from home.

FANSPEAK

Which goalkeeper will make more saves for their respective team?

  • Naveen Kumar
  • Vishal Kaith

Have your say in the comments section below. 

Catch the match live on the Star Sports Network, Hotstar and Jio TV from 7:30 PM

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