ISL: Kerala Blasters to face NorthEast United in crucial tie

ANI | Updated: Feb 16, 2018 19:32 IST

Guwahati [India], Feb 16 (ANI): Kerala Blasters FC will look for nothing less than full points when they square off with NorthEast United FC in their next Indian Super League (ISL) encounter at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati, here on Saturday.

Kerala Blasters have a fighting chance of qualifying for the semi-finals of the ISL with 21 points from 15 matches. They must win all three remaining matches to have a chance of qualifying and may still not make it.

The match will also see Blasters coach and former England goalkeeper David James be up against NorthEast United coach Avram Grant, who was his coach at Portsmouth FC in 2010.

Portsmouth, captained by James, made it to the final of the FA Cup against all odds, where they lost 0-1 to Chelsea FC, who also won the English Premier League that season.

"The coach was my player. Eight years ago we made it to the final of the (FA) Cup. We had an unbelievable achievement. He was the captain. I wish him all the best but we will try to win the game. It's good for the future that the team will not give up and show good mentality," said NorthEast United coach Avram Grant.

NorthEast United are already out of the competition but will need the three points to give their home fans something to cheer. Two of the three victories for NorthEast United have come at home.

"You all know what happened in the first half of the season. We tried to improve things that needed to improve. We came out of the situation. From being good in counter, now we dominate and create a lot of chances. Last three games is typical to what happened, control the game, miss chances and rivals score from one half-attack. The results are better than the first half but not like we expected," said Grant.

Kerala Blasters allowed defending champions ATK to snatch points from them with a late draw in their last game which halted their run of two successive victories.

Assistant coach Hermann Hreioarsson admitted that the focus has been on them ahead of this clash and they are now ready to put their best foot forward.

"We are still in it. We have to go into every game playing for a win. We are happy with our progress. In the last game, we created many chances: 18 shots and 25 crosses," said Hreioarsson.

Kerala Blasters can reach a maximum of 30 points and will need FC Pune City (28 points), Chennaiyin FC (27 points) and Jamshedpur FC (25 points) to drop points.(ANI)