Kochi: Kerala Blasters will continue their search for the elusive first goal and the maiden win as they lock horns with Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) here Sunday night.
Blasters have two points from two games, having played out goalless draws with ATK and Jamshedpur FC. Mumbai, on the other hand, have three points from as many matches.
Blasters put up a much better performance against JFC after a drab draw with ATK in the inaugural match of Season 4. They did dominate possession against JFC, but the worrying point for Blasters is the fact that there has been few clear-cut chances. Both C K Vineeth and Iain Hume have been largely disappointing so far. Dimitar Berbatov, on whom Blasters coach Rene Meulensteen has pinned his hopes, came up with a vastly improved show against JFC. But the Bulgarian still looks a bit rusty and needs to bring all his experience into play in the vital game against Mumbai.
Veteran defender Wes Brown has regained fitness and is expected to start the game. The Blasters backline as well as goalkeeper Paul Rachubka have been rock solid. It's the midfield which has struggled to get its act together. Arata Izumi has been off color in his new role as defensive midfielder. With Brown back in the mix, Izumi may be employed in his customary position as attacking midfielder.
Mumbai would be eager to bounce back after suffering a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to FC Pune City in their previous game. They were leading till the 74th minute, before Pune hit back through Emiliano Alfaro and snatched an unlikely win in injury-time. Midfielder Achille Emana has been a real threat going forward, while Everton Santos and striker Balwant Singh too have been impressive. In all probability, Blasters defenders will have their work cut out.
The spectators have passionately supported Blasters and Sunday being a holiday, a sellout crowd is expected to cheer the home team on. Mumbai will test the resilience of Blasters and both sides will be eager to add to their points tally. Blasters desperately need to score and it is up to seasoned campaigners Berbatov and Hume to provide the spark which has been missing so far.