Kerala Blasters FC & Chennaiyin FC Play Out a Tumbleweed

With only 3 games to go for each team, this is proving to be the last stretch of the great race for the knockout spots. Chennaiyin FC, unlike others like Kerala Blasters FC, don’t have to worry so much about their qualification because they are in a very good position league table position wise.

Still, this doesn’t mean that they can let complacency creep into their game and no one will know this more than their Head Coach, Marco Materazzi. Materazzi, a FIFA World Cup winner with Italy, will bring all his top flight experience to bear on his players.

Besides, seeing the big and dangerous guy staring at you like you need to do more should be enough for any man to buck his game up. You can rest assured that Materazzi will be giving them all the looks they deserve especially after their humbling, nay, humiliating defeat to Northeast United FC

David James will try to have the same impact on his players and he has the 6’ 2’’ stature to make it happen too. Add to that his, ruggedly dangerous looks with stubble and you have a dangerous cocktail of highly flammable material.

Honestly, his players may also need a firm foot up their rumps because their last defeat was no less humiliating than Chennaiyin FC’s. This one shaped up to be a perfect one for the neutrals like me*.

Kerala Blasters FC & Chennaiyin FC Team News

Iain Hume, Kerala Blasters FC

Iain Hume, Kerala Blasters FC

A host of changes were made by both player managers. Kerala Blasters FC’s changes had a wholesale nature to them as they replaced 6 players from their starting line-up.

I won’t go into each and every one but the most important ones were that Falvey and Hume were played while Hengbart was hooked.

I predicted Hume and Falvey’s inclusion but missed Hengbart entirely. In hindsight, it’s not a bad change because Hengbart was looking lethargic with fatigue in his last outing.

There was an interesting change for Chennaiyin FC too as Materazzi chose Cristian over Bruno Pelissari. Bruno Pelissari had a sorry excuse for a game last time out so it’s not a surprise that Materazzi chose to remove him from his starting line-up.

A Tentative First Half

Sandesh Jhingan, Kerala Blasters FC

Sandesh Jhingan, Kerala Blasters FC

Chennaiyin FC looked far more confident than the Keralites in the first few minutes of the first half. But, the match quickly settled into the midfield battle that was expected to be the centrepiece of this clash.

There were constant breaks in the play and the game looked slightly sluggish. David James went down again in the 19th minute as he was in the last game.

In the press conference before the game, James had said that he was completely fit to continue but it seems that he was overly positive about his fitness levels.

James went off for Sandip Nandy. It was a typical case of youth being brought on for a veteran. Sandip Nandy is 39 while David James is 44!

The Kerala Blasters FC player Sandesh Jhingan looks like a very good right back. The Indian Super League official website describes him as a central defender and I can see by his style how he can play in central defence too.

I think he has a bright future just like Romeo Fernandes of FC Goa. He is my second pick as a player to watch out for. I believe the ISL has done him a world of good too. He’s constantly improved from one game to the next. Keep an eye out for him. He’ll be a star**.

The rest of the game continued to be a midfield battle with consistent turnovers. There is virtually nothing substantial worth reporting. Let’s hope the second half turns out to be better.

The Second Half Fails To Entertain As Expected

Within one minute of the second half, Kerala Blasters FC created a good chance for Hume. The ball was put through the defence to set Hume free who skewed the ball wide of the far post.

The second half was slightly better than the first in terms of continuity but it was still a midfield battle. However the slight improvement did give me hope that the game would light up as it progressed.

David James did try to help the game by bringing on Pedro Gusmao, a midfielder, for the ineffective Avinabo Bag, who is a defender. Materazzi tried the same thing by bringing on Pelissari for Cristian.

Unfortunately, the game was quite slow and boring. Its games like these that give football a bad name. Granted, both teams wouldn’t have minded a single point from a tough game but still, it’s the watchers who suffer.

One Goal To Rule Them All!

Bruno Pelissari, Chennaiyin FC

Bruno Pelissari, Chennaiyin FC

Chennaiyin FC’s Pelissari did provide a moment of brilliance in the game. He ran with the ball from Chennaiyin FC’s all the way from 18 yard box to Kerala’s box and scored with a left footed curler.

That goal was so wonderful that it wouldn’t have been out of place in any of the high profile football leagues that you watch.

Heck, the Messi’s and Ronaldo’s would’ve appreciated that goal. Kerala Blasters FC 0 – 1 Chennaiyin FC.

With that goal, Chennaiyin FC go 5 points clear at the top of the table. I don’t think they’ll be caught now by anyone in the league. Materazzi will be very happy.

My Conclusion of a Poor Match

David James, Kerala Blasters FC

David James, Kerala Blasters FC

This was a game between two teams that were more interested in not losing than winning.

I expected Kerala Blasters FC to be a little more adventurous in the latter part of the second half but they seemed to lack the cutting edge required.

Chennaiyin FC did have the cutting edge in the form of Pelissari though. That goal made watching the game almost worth it.

Kerala Blasters FC were woeful, however. Watching them try to not lose while trying to get a goal was depressing at best. In the end Kerala Blasters FC deserved what they got. They were at home and they couldn’t go for 3 points with 60,000 fans behind them?

I feel bad for Jhingan, Hume, and co. This was a tactical mistake from David James than a mistake of their players. Serves them right to lose on a counterattack for playing like this.

Chennaiyin FC will be very happy with the result. They had a wonderful strategy of snuffing out Kerala Blasters and they implemented it perfectly. To be honest, their tactical plan was helped by the home team’s poor strategy.

*Psst! I have a small leaning towards Chennaiyin FC even though I prefer FC Goa.

**Oye Wenger! You need a defender and can’t find one. Take Jhingan and groom him why don’t you?


Kerala Blasters FC & Chennaiyin FC to Try To Return To Winning Ways

Today evening, Kerala Blasters FC meet Chennaiyin FC in what will be a southern derby for the Indian Super League. While there is no strong rivalry between the two teams (that requires a special event of some kind), the two teams are on the same side of the table.

The Story behind Kerala Blasters FC vs. Chennaiyin FC

Kerala Blasters FC vs. Chennaiyin FC

Kerala Blasters FC vs. Chennaiyin FC

There is another similarity between the two teams. Both teams had their unbeaten streaks broken in their last matches by teams that were, honestly, not expected to do it.

Kerala Blasters FC were shot down at home by the extremely impressive FC Goa while Chennaiyin FC were taught a harsh lesson by Northeast United FC in their travels. Kerala Blasters FC, before that loss, were on a 5 game unbeaten streak while Chennaiyin FC were on a 7 game unbeaten streak.

How teams react right after such a significant loss often shows their mettle and these two teams are both coming off from sorry losses. This game is where the two teams get a chance to get their confidence back.

Expect a Slow Start and a Fiery Finish

You should expect both teams to start slightly tentatively because they wouldn’t want a repeat of what happened last time out. I’m afraid they’ll try to avoid losing first before winning. The situation that both the teams are in, a single point shouldn’t be that bad for them.

It will give them a chance to gain some confidence back without risking too much. A single point will re-establish Chennaiyin FC’s 3 point lead at the top of the table especially since all that Atletico De Kolkata could do in their last game was draw.

For Kerala Blasters FC, a single point would mean that they will go above FC Goa, 3 points clear of Delhi Dynamos FC in 5th. I think the onus has to be on Kerala Blasters FC to make something happen because a single point is the most dangerous for them.

Cedric Hengbart, Kerala Blasters FC

Cedric Hengbart, Kerala Blasters FC

For instance, they may reach 3rd position in the table with a point but the teams behind them will have a game in hand.

In fact, the worst case scenario for Kerala Blasters is that they get a single point but find themselves in 7th position once this round of matches has passed.

Every team till the 7th position in the league will have a chance to overtake Kerala Blasters FC if they don’t win today.

I expect the first few minutes to be all about probing, measuring, and assessing the opponent. Second half would be where both the teams may try to go for the kill. Chennaiyin FC should be more content to sit back and counter while Kerala Blasters FC will lead the way in the second half.

They could play right into the hands of Chennaiyin FC team because they are very good with their counterattacks.

How the Two Teams Matchup

This one will be a very interesting tactical game between two recently, semi-retired legends of football. Here’s why.

  • Kerala Blasters FC are much more accomplished in defence while Chennaiyin FC is much more accomplished in attack.
  • Kerala Blasters FC need a win more than Chennaiyin FC but neither team can afford to lose.
  • So, Kerala Blasters FC may attack more in the second half while Chennaiyin FC will have to defend well while trying to counter.
  • Since the Blasters are more about defence, they’ll have to move out of their comfort zone and figure out how to attack and break down Chennaiyin’s defence.
  • Since Chennaiyin is more about attack, they’ll also have to move out of their comfort zone and figure out how to thwart Kerala’s attacking strategy.

You’ll get to see new sides of both teams in this game, that’s for sure. There is also the matter of Kerala Blasters FC having a very vocal home support on their side. I think that may turn out to be the big difference.

Kerala Blasters FC should start their attacking key player Iain Hume who can make a world of difference to their gameplay. It’ll also be interesting to see who David James chooses to partner Cedric Hengbart with in the centre of defence. Will it be Gurwinder Singh or Colin Falvey? My money is on Falvey.

Alessandro Nesta, Chennaiyin FC

Alessandro Nesta, Chennaiyin FC

Chennaiyin FC’s attack is seriously stunted right now. They neither have Elano nor Mendoza. Bruno Pelissari, in the last match, was strangely impetuous when his team wasn’t dominating. Temperament may be an issue with him.

Jeje Lalpekhlua is a highly reputed player but he couldn’t do much in the last game either. He does have a good engine though. These two will be Chennaiyin FC’s main attackers. It might be a blessing in disguise that they have to defend first.

Don’t expect to see Alessandro Nesta play because I believe he’s expected to join his new team from the next game onwards.

Senior Management Speak…

Marco Materazzi, Chennaiyin FC

Marco Materazzi, Chennaiyin FC

Marco Materazzi and David James both met reporters in their pre-game press conferences. Both had words of encouragement for their teams.

Marco Materazzi put up a strong and resilient front for his team when he said that even though they lost their last away game badly, they should not be scared of the next one. There are hints in his words that he won’t change the way Chennaiyin FC will play.

If that happens, everything I said above can be set aside. However, Materazzi, till now, has proven to be a shrewd manager who changes the way his team plays according to the situation and the opponent. I do have a feeling that he is dissembling here.

David James, Kerala Blasters FC

David James, Kerala Blasters FC

David James, on the other hand, has been more of a heart on his sleeve type of manager. He accepted that this game will be a challenge for his team. I think he knows that they need to win and, for that, they need to attack.

I think he knows his team won’t all be comfortable with attacking so much. He also knows the kind of difference the crowd can make so he called out to them to continue their unbelievable support for his players.

This is also the first time James has had his whole team to work with. This should show us what his preferred 11 looks like especially since he’ll have to balance defence with attack.

If you are a tactical kind of football fan, make sure that you watch this one which is shaping up to be like a battle between Vishwanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen. The newer fans of football should also watch this one because they’ll see tactics and excitement both in one sitting. A highly recommended match.


FC Pune City vs. Atletico De Kolkata: Two Out of Form Teams Lock Horns

The Indian Super League has dished out so many surprises that only a brave man will continue to predict the outcomes of the games. It’s a good thing that gambling is illegal in the country or the first season of the high profile league would’ve seen countless daddies, brothers, and boyfriends ruin themselves with their bets.

The Scenario for FC Pune City

FC Pune City vs. Atletico De Kolkata

FC Pune City vs. Atletico De Kolkata

When FC Pune City met Atletico De Kolkata last time, they beat them silly and claimed the 3rd spot in the league. Four games and zero wins later, if they beat Kolkata again then they can claim the 4th spot in the league.

A loss wouldn’t be the end of the world for FC Pune City, though. The reason for this is that even if they lose, they’ll still be 2 points off the 4th qualifying spot.

A loss will cause two different types of problems for them. The first will come in the form of brittle confidence being shaken even further – 5 games without a win. The second will be their goal difference. FC Pune City have the second worst GD in the league and only the mauling of Mumbai City FC at the hands of Delhi Dynamos FC prevents them from being the worst. Pune’s GD is -5. A loss will make it even worse.

You can rest assured that GD will have a role to play when the last round of matches roll around the corner. There will be teams who will need to not only win but win by certain goal margins to cement their positions for the knockout round. FC Pune City will find themselves in real trouble then if they don’t start fixing their GD now.

They will have Kostas Katsouranis and David Trezeguet to rely upon but I don’t know the status of Davide Colomba who has proven crucial to their fortunes. If he doesn’t play then you can rest assured that Pune will miss him dearly.

Atletico De Kolkata’s Deceptive Position Vis-À-Vis Form

Luis Garcia, Atletico De Kolkata

Luis Garcia, Atletico De Kolkata

Atletico De Kolkata, themselves, are in dire straits. While their position in the Indian Super League (2nd) doesn’t really show it, they’ve actually won only once in their last 6 matches and even that win was a struggle for them.

In fact, they beat Northeast United FC by a single goal margin probably because Northeast United couldn’t score a goal at that time even if their lives depended on it.

Unlike a few matches ago, Kolkata can no longer take their qualifying for granted because if they lose today then there are four teams waiting to overtake them.

Effectively, hypothetically, a loss for Atletico De Kolkata could see them face their next opponents in danger of dropping to 5th or 6th position.

A win would mean a lot for Atletico De Kolkata. First and foremost, they’ll regain their confidence that they are the supreme team in the league which has been seriously dented these last few matches. Secondly, they have a chance to reclaim the top spot in the league with Chennaiyin FC floundering against Northeast United FC in their last outing.

If Atletico De Kolkata can win with a margin of 2 or more goals then they can topple Chennaiyin from the summit on GD. In such a scenario, both teams will be on 16 points but Kolkata will have a better GD.

Atletico De Kolkata will have all their key players available in the form of Luis Garcia, Fikru Teferra Lemessa, Jose Miguel Gonzalez Rey (Josemi), and Borja Fernandez so should ideally be able to turn on the magic on demand.

FC Pune’s Franco Colomba Explains Poor Form

Franco Colomba, FC Pune City

Franco Colomba, FC Pune City

In his pre-game press conference, Franco Colomba touched upon the competitiveness of ISL and how teams have been behaving like yoyos on strings in the table.

There has been constant shuffling of the pack which is partly due to the fact that there are only 8 teams in the league but also because they are all at the same level.

They will gradually sort themselves out in terms of consistency and quality. He also tried to explain his team’s poor performance on the fact that their last 3 games were on the road. This is what he said

This is football, and it’s not possible to foresee what can happen. My team played three matches away against opponents who were in good form and it was difficult, but now, we have three matches at home, and we want to take advantage of that and go higher in the league table.

That’s a good strategy from Colomba but while it may make the journos and his players feel better, it doesn’t bear up against closer scrutiny. Take for example the fact that FC Pune City beat Atletico De Kolkata, league leaders at the time, on their home turf! Similarly, it’s not like FC Pune City hasn’t lost at home either. They’ve lost to Kerala Blasters FC and drawn a number of games at home too.

Atletico De Kolkata Management Keeping Cards Close To Their Chests

Deshi Bhaktawer, Atletico De Kolkata

Deshi Bhaktawer, Atletico De Kolkata

While Franco Colomba was refreshingly open about his analysis, Atletico De Kolkata’s management was specifically vague about their comments. Their respective press conference was led by their Goalkeeping Coach, Deshi Bhaktawer.

He said that his team were looking to put in 120% in their game but he did specify that they’re not out to take revenge against FC Pune City.

This is another side of this upcoming game. When FC Pune City visited Atletico De Kolkata last, they defeated with a score line of 3 – 1. His exact comments:

What’s important is that we come here and give our 120 per cent. They are a good team, and we are well aware of that, but it’s not about revenge.

Even considering what Bhaktawer has said, I doubt Atletico De Kolkata don’t want revenge. They seem to me like a very proud team who would want to set the record straight against Pune. You should expect Atletico De Kolkata to be especially aggressive tomorrow even though some people are suggesting that they’ll play for one point.

Let’s see who wins out in this tag team match when Garcia, Josemi, and Fikru go up against Katsouranis, Trezeguet, and Dudu Omagbemi.


Mumbai City FC Thrashed by Delhi Dynamos FC

It almost seems like every day a team at the foot of table is playing. This actually shows the competitiveness of the Indian Super League because teams at the foot of the table are constantly winning and moving up the table. FC Goa did it, Delhi Dynamos FC did it, Northeast United FC did it, and now its Delhi’s chance to do it again.

Freddie Ljungberg Starts!

One win for Delhi Dynamos FC will take them to the 6th spot, while Mumbai City FC can go 5th. 5th for Delhi Dynamos FC and 4th for Mumbai City is a real possibility too. Both teams made huge changes to their starting line-ups as was expected before the match but the biggest change still comes from Mumbai City.

Freddie Ljungberg has received his first start for his team and would look to show what he’s capable of. He’s been more or less poor in this league till now mainly because of injuries. He has to make up for the absences of Nicolas Anelka and Andre Moritz both.

Delhi Dynamos FC again started without Alessandro Del Pierro. He, reportedly, has come down with something. In any case, Delhi Dynamos FC should’ve gotten used to his absence by now.

Delhi Dynamos FC & Mumbai City FC Serve up a Very Poor First Half

Hans Mulder, Delhi Dynamos FC

Hans Mulder, Delhi Dynamos FC

Delhi Dynamos FC started the game much better than Mumbai City FC with Gustavo Marmentini Dos Santos especially doing well.

Delhi even managed to get a goal line clearance from the Mumbai City right back. While Delhi did play well, they were dominating mainly because Mumbai City weren’t playing that well.

There was a strange sluggishness to Mumbai’s game play and their players looked a little disinterested in pressing. Ljungberg was especially culpable of this. Without pressing, Delhi Dynamos could stroke the ball around and get off great balls.

Delhi Dynamos FC Score Right at the End

Hans Mulder, Delhi Dynamos FC

The Real Hans Mulder

Mumbai City did claw their way back into the game during the middle of the half but they couldn’t really do anything with it. Just before half time, Delhi Dynamos FC attacked from their right flank with a cross.

Mumbai City’s defenders failed to clear it and Hans Mulder* put his foot through the ball and into the net. A great finish that one. Delhi Dynamos FC 1 – 0 Mumbai City FC.

Barring that one goal just before the half time and the last couple of minutes, the whole half was quite dead and boring. There is one clear sign for me that a game of football is bad. You know the game is going badly if you see both the teams playing head tennis with the football. There were at least 3 of those in this half.

This was two bad teams playing badly. I’m sorry but the first half was so bad that I’d rather have watched my nails grow or even my grandmother knitting me a sweater. No wonder, Delhi Dynamos’ stadium is empty all the time.

A More Encouraging Opening to the Second Half

Mads Junker, Delhi Dynamos FC

Mads Junker, Delhi Dynamos FC

Within 5 minutes of the second half, Delhi Dynamos FC stretched their lead further.

Dos Santos provided smart pass to Mads Junker who was making a run between Mumbai City’s defenders into the box. Junker took it on and passed the ball into the net. Delhi Dynamos FC 2 – 0 Mumbai City FC.

As you can tell from the goal, the second half was a little more creative especially from Delhi Dynamos who created many more chances. Delhi further turned on the style with a third goal. This time it was Dos Santos. Dos Santos started the move by sending the ball into the right flank to Francis Fernandes and continued his run into the box.

Delhi Dynamos FC Score Another

Gustavo Marmentini Dos Santos, Delhi Dynamos FC

Gustavo Marmentini Dos Santos, Delhi Dynamos FC

Francis Fernandes dropped in a wonderful cross right on his head. With the pace on the ball, all that Dos Santos had to do was guide the ball and he did that to perfection.

That was a header into the top right corner provided effortlessly. Game over and league over for Mumbai City. Delhi Dynamos FC 3 – 0 Mumbai City FC.

That goal took Delhi Dynamos FC to the 5th spot in the league and over Northeast United FC. In case you’re wondering what happened to Ljungberg, Peter Reid took him off in the halftime period along with Lalrindika Ralte to bring on Nadong Bhutia and Francisco Javier Fernandez Luque.

Mumbai City FC Get A Consolation Goal

Abhishek Yadav, Mumbai City FC

Abhishek Yadav, Mumbai City FC

Deep into the second half I think Delhi Dynamos FC got complacent and lazy because Mumbai City FC seemed to grow in stature.

They were more attacking, more motivated, and simply looked more likely to score.

In fact, they did get one consolation goal from Abhishek Yadav. The cross came in from the left and found Yadav who finished very well.

It wasn’t an easy chance but Yadav pulled it off with aplomb! Delhi Dynamos FC 3 – 1 Mumbai City FC.

Delhi Dynamos FC Wake Up and Put the Game beyond Mumbai City FC

Manish Bhargav, Delhi Dynamos FC

Manish Bhargav, Delhi Dynamos FC

Because of that goal, Delhi lost their 5th position in the table and dropped back to 6th. However, they made made up for it with another goal.

The cross came in from the touchline from Dias, Subrata Paul got a hand on it. The ball fell to another Delhi player and he saved again before Manish Bhargav put it into the net. Delhi Dynamos FC 4 – 1 Mumbai City FC.

It was a poor game from Mumbai City and on the evidence of their current points tally and performance, you might say that they should give up on the qualification spots but you shouldn’t. The reason is that they’re now only 3 points off Kerala Blasters FC in the 4th spot.

The problem for Mumbai City will be their goals scored and conceded tally. Their GD right now is -8 and they’ve only scored 9 goals. They still have 3 games left. If they win them all then they may still make it into the 4th position.

In any case, a match that was so dull in the first half turned into a goal fest in the second. The quality of football was still a little below the standards of other games in the ISL but we did get goals, so that keeps the newer fans happy.

*A cross between the guy from X files and the guy from Star Wars.


Can Delhi Dynamos FC Continue Their Revival?

Delhi Dynamos FC will take on Mumbai City FC today evening. They would both be heartened by the way Northeast United FC shot up the table yesterday with a single great performance that gave them a comprehensive win over Chennaiyin FC. For both, these teams, a similar rise is also possible.

A Dearth of Goals for Delhi Dynamos FC and Mumbai City FC

Delhi Dynamos FC vs. Mumbai City FC

Delhi Dynamos FC vs. Mumbai City FC

Delhi Dynamos FC can claim the 6th or 5th position with a win. Which position they claim depends on the margin of their win. They’ll need to win by a minimum margin of 3 goals to go above Northeast United FC.

Mumbai City FC, on the other hand, can definitely claim the 5th position in the league and have a shot at the 4th position. In order to go 4th in the Indian Super League table, Mumbai City FC will have to win by 3 or more than 3 goals.

Neither of the teams is prolific in the attacking department so it’s hard to see them winning by 3 goals. In fact, in terms of goals scored, Mumbai City FC is tied with Kerala Blasters FC at the foot of the table while Delhi Dynamos FC is the second worst team tied with FC Pune City.

Mumbai City FC has actually not scored a single goal in the last 4 games. It’ll be even more difficult for them today because they can neither field Nicolas Anelka nor Andre Moritz, both of whom are injured, as per their manager. They may have Freddie Ljungberg playing, though, which should soften the blow a little.

Still, Ljungberg, as much as I love the man, hasn’t really lit up the league with his skill. At his peak, he was one of the best off the ball runners I have ever seen. With age, I doubt he’ll be doing a lot of running which means that he needs support in the striking and creative departments both. Mumbai City FC can’t provide either in this match with the absence of their other 2 cream attackers.

Peter Reid’s Curve Ball

The Mumbai City FC head coach, Peter Reid, seems to understand the predicament his team find themselves in. He categorically mentioned the absence of Anelka and Moritz as something that could be a problem.

The strategy he specified in his pre-match press conference is strange, if you ask me. Read for yourself:

Scoring goals has been a problem. I have to change the objective of the team. If tomorrow night we go one down, I will change the game because we need points. However, it will be difficult for us because we are missing Anelka and Moritz who arguably are the best attacking players we have. So it is now up to somebody else to take the chance and that’s what we will be looking to do.

Peter Reid, Mumbai City FC

Peter Reid, Mumbai City FC

I, honestly, don’t understand this. You know you need a win, why don’t you go attack straight away? I mean I get that it’s an away game but you still need the points.

Be brave and go for it. Moreover, your loss to Chennaiyin FC should’ve shown you that you can be beaten defensively too.

Didn’t you learn anything from the way Delhi Dynamos FC played against Northeast United FC and Northeast United FC, themselves, played against Chennaiyin FC?

Still, what do I know, my last two predictions of struggling teams fell flat on their face and he is after all a manager of pedigree. Strong opinions aside, it’ll be interesting to watch Peter Reid’s strategy.

Tactical Surprises to Continue From Harm Van Veldhoven?

Harm Van Veldhoven, Delhi Dynamos FC

Harm Van Veldhoven, Delhi Dynamos FC

Delhi Dynamos FC head coach, Harm Van Veldhoven, was behind their surprise win last time out against Northeast United FC.

He changed the tactics and personnel on the pitch to draw out goals and a better performance out of them. Journalists at his pre-game press conference expected more of the same. He responded:

Every game is different. It is important to make combinations and to score goals. We had tried out some new things with Gustavo dos Santos and Francis Fernandes, which worked well when we were away, but we have to see if it can work in every game.

Don’t expect him to follow the same strategy, though, because he followed this quote with another gem saying:

However, we cannot play with the same players all the time. We also have to analyse the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and choose the team accordingly for that particular game. Maybe we play in the same organisation but with different players.

All this goes to say that you can’t predict what Van Veldhoven will do with his team to face Mumbai City FC. I do want Alessandro Del Pierro to have a role to play in this game because he, like Freddie Ljungberg, hasn’t really done a lot in this league. If he plays, maybe we’ll get to see one of his trademark long range curling shots.