Kerala Blasters will have their eyes on consolidating their lead at the top of the table when they take on bruised Mumbai City FC in a clash of titans in the Hero Indian Super League at the Tilak Maidan Stadium on Sunday. Kerala are on a dream run at the moment, remaining unbeaten in 10 of their 11 games so far and sitting pretty at the top of the heap. Ivan Vukomanovic’s charges have looked the best team so far in the tournament with their attacking arsenal steamrolling opponents.
In Mumbai City, they have a team that are on a five-game winless run. The fall started with Mumbai City’s 3-0 loss to
Kerala Blasters earlier in the season. The Islanders’ longest winless streak happened in the 2015 season when they went on a 7-game run without a win.
For Kerala, Adrian Luna has been their best player by a distance. The Uruguayan has been an assist king, providing six assists in 11 matches this season and is one of the main reasons for the team’s success. With six assists, he sits at the joint top for most assists in Kerala Blasters history along with Jessel Carneiro and Josu Prieto.
“We have realised no team will give us anything free in this league. We have to fight for that. In professional sport, the moment you think you are the best and start being arrogant, you are finished, you’re history. I can understand the emotion and euphoria the fans have but we need to stay focused and fight till the end,” said Vukomanovic on the eve of the tie.
Reigning champions Mumbai would be desperate to end their winless run. Placed fourth in the points table, Des Buckingham’s side have 17 points in 11 games and a win on the morrow would bring them right on track.
Mumbai have conceded 20 goals this season, crossing their tally of 18 goals conceded in the league stage of Hero ISL 20-21 in just 11 matches. They have suffered because of their porous backline and Buckingham would want to address that first.
“At Mumbai City, we look at things like how it stands on the table right now – joint third and three points off the top, not just the past few games. Having said that, we can’t go through the next nine games conceding the way we have. We have the same players who are working hard. I am convinced we are a short time away from a turnaround,” Buckingham said.
On Kerala, he added: “I enjoy watching Kerala Blasters play. They are coached well by Ivan. Adrian Luna always impresses me.”
In the 15 games between the two sides, Kerala Blasters have won thrice, including the last game. Mumbai have six wins and six games ended in draws.