Kerala Blasters coach Steve Coppell believes playing to their potential against FC Pune City here on Friday will ensure them a win that will be valuable in gaining them qualification to the semi-finals of the Indian Super League (ISL).
Kerala are outside the top four in the standings with 15 points from 11 matches but a win against Pune, placed fourth with the same number of points but a better goal difference, will push them to the second spot, behind league leaders Mumbai City FC.
Coppell knows the importance of pocketing victory with just three matches left to be played and will be encouraged with the team’s impressive performances at home.
Kerala have conceded just three goals at home and they are the only team to have won three back-to-back matches at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here. Since losing the opening game at home against Atletico de Kolkata, Kerala are on a four-match unbeaten streak at home.
“After 11 games, we are still in a position to qualify. If we play to our potential, then we have a very good chance to be in the play-offs. That was our target at the beginning of the season,” said Coppell.
“After (the first) three games, people would have said we don’t have a good chance (with just one point). But then we fought back, worked hard and tried to be tight. When we lost, we didn’t overreact and when we won, similarly, we didn’t overreact. Teams will only be judged after 14 games.”
Kerala were hammered 0-5 by Mumbai City away in their previous game but Coppell feels the result will not have any bearing against Pune.
“That’s finished now. We learnt what we can from that game. We are looking forward to the next one against Pune,” said Coppell.
Pune are facing a must-win situation with 15 points from 12 matches. They are placed fourth but failure to win in their next two matches could result in elimination.
“It’s important (to win) because there are six, seven teams vying to qualify for the semi-finals,” said Pune’s assistant coach David Moliner.