In a bid to return to winning ways, Kerala Blasters FC are set to host Punjab FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Monday, February 12.
The Blasters had an impressive start to their ISL season and were atop the standings at the halfway mark of the campaign. However, after a disappointing Super Cup, they suffered a 2-1 loss to Odisha FC in their first ISL game this year.
This outcome dropped them to third place in the standings with 26 points to their name. However, a victory would propel them above FC Goa to second place, while they will trail league leaders Odisha FC by two points with a game in hand.
Head coach Ivan Vukomanovic, whose team has remained undefeated at home this season, anticipates a challenging match against Punjab FC and emphasizes the importance of the Manjappada supporters being in full voice to secure a positive outcome.
“I expect a hard game, you know, with many duels, lots of runnings and, of course, hoping that with the help of the fans, tomorrow (on Monday), that we can achieve something nice. So now hopefully they will come tomorrow to support us. We need them, we need them now in more than ever,” he stated at the pre-match press conference.
Meanwhile, Punjab FC, after a tough start to the season, are starting to convert good performances into results. Staikos Vergitis appears to have found the right balance to his side, with the likes of Madih Talal, Luka Majcen, and Wilmar Jordan Gil in fine form since the turn of the year.
Their recent 3-1 win over Bengaluru FC has propelled them back into contention for a playoff spot, as they sit just five points behind sixth-placed NorthEast United, who have played an additional game compared to the Shers.
With momentum in Punjab FC’s favor, head coach Staikos Vergisitis is confident that his team have the belief to secure a favorable outcome in Kochi.
“One positive result helps the psychology of the player get to a good level. It gives them confidence. I had seen from our (Kalinga) Super Cup games that they have more confidence, and this is something that was confirmed in the last game, ” Vergitis said in the pre-match press conference.
Kerala Blasters FC vs Punjab FC: Head-to-head record
Matches played: 2
KBFC wins: 2
Result in the reverse fixture: Punjab FC 0-1 Kerala Blasters FC
Kerala Blasters FC vs Punjab FC: Top goalscorers this season
Kerala Blasters FC: Dimitrios Diamantakos (8 goals in 11 matches)
Punjab FC: Luka Majcen (4 goals in 13 matches)
Kerala Blasters FC vs Punjab FC: Stats and numbers from the 2023-24 Indian Super League season
Most saves: Sachin Suresh (30), Ravi Kumar (16)
Most shots per 90: Ishan Pandita (3.9), Madih Talal (3.7)
Most assists: Adrian Luna (4), Madih Talal (3)
Most clearances: Milos Drincic (50), Dimitrios Chatziisaisas (54)