ISL: Blasters seek happy return against Blues

Express News Service

BENGALURU:  Almost none of the ISL teams inside the bio-bubble were spared as players and officials infected with Covid-19 in the third wave. Some of the teams were hit quite badly as they had to go into isolation for more than 10-12 days, meaning no games and training too. Bengaluru FC were one of those teams, but have performed well post the short break. It remains to be seen how Kerala Blasters, who have not played since Jan 12, fare in their return as they face the Blues at the Tilak Maidan in Vasco on Sunday.

Things are not looking too good for the Blasters, who have not had much training session ahead of their game. If some of the players started training from Friday, some did so on Saturday. With the current situation, it is going to be an uphill task for Kerala, who have just lost a single game in the league so far, to be at the same level before Covid breached their bubble. Blasters’ head coach Ivan Vukomanovic opened up about the current situation in the team, where he might struggle to field 11 players on the pitch.

“If we are to play a Kabaddi game tomorrow (Sunday), we might have enough players – maybe seven or eight, maybe a maximum of ten players. It is weird. But we will use everybody we can, as the show must go on. Nobody cares if we are ready or not. Whoever plays, he will give his 100 percent, but we don’t know if it will look like a football game,” said Vukomanovic.”

If Blasters have not played a single game for more than two weeks, Bengaluru played two in the last week after they came out of isolation. In fact, the Blues have come up with impressive results, collecting four points and have stretched their unbeaten streak to seven games. Bengaluru, who will be playing their third game in eight days, have climbed up the table and a win against Blasters would mean moving into the top four. Also, Bengaluru’s Danish Farooq and Cleiton Silva are available for selection.

Just on the basis of more training sessions, one might consider Marco Pezzaiuoli’s men to be favourite. But, the Blasters have it in them to collect three points if things go their way, and the Blues gaffer wants his players to focus on the game.

“I was unhappy about the game against Blasters earlier this season (1-1 draw), because we conceded a late goal and dropped two points. We need to focus on our game and try to be stronger than Kerala. We have a good squad and when we play our style of football, we have a very good chance of winning,” Pezzaiuoli added.

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