ISL preview: Blockbuster on the cards as Bengaluru FC visit Kerala Blasters in Kochi
Kochi, December 30: Bengaluru FC will have to weather a stutter in form, hungry opponents and what's bound to be a hostile atmosphere when they come up against Kerala Blasters at the JN Stadium in Kochi on Sunday (December 31). Albert Roca's Blues have suffered uncharacteristic consecutive defeats at home and the Spaniard is hoping that a tough fixture will bring the best out of his side.
'We are in a situation where we have dropped important points and teams around us are gaining on the table. But we don't have reason to panic. We've been confident and good on the road and we need to keep that going. Kerala would have liked a better start to the League and with every passing game, they will look to make up lost ground which makes things tough for us,' said Roca.
Rene Meulensteen-coached Blasters sit eighth on the table after seven games and have just the one win to show for. But Roca believes the hosts have more quality than their points suggest. 'They have an experienced coach and enough quality on the squad to hurt us. They will also be spurred on by the home support, which I have heard is massive. Both teams are looking to shake off bad results and the contest will be interesting and even.'
Bengaluru will be without defender John Johnson who didn't make the trip owing to personal commitments while striker Braulio Nobrega sits out with an injury. 'We have a couple of unfortunate situations but I have the options I need and I'm sure whoever comes in will make it count.'
The game will also see the Blues come up against CK Vineeth, Rino Anto, Sandesh Jhingan, Siam Hanghal and Karan Sawhney - all of who have worn the BFC blue in the past. The prelude to the game began soon after the fixtures were announced and while Roca believes the buzz is good for the game, it will take a backseat once the teams get on the pitch. 'I've been told we have a few traveling fans and that a lot is being said by both sets of fans on social media platforms and I guess it's all great for the game. But the boys are professionals and we will be treating this like any other game where we need to get the result we have come for.'
Kerala Blasters vs Bengaluru FC
Indian Super League
Live from JN Stadium, Kochi
At 5.30 pm
On Star Sports 2 and Hotstar