Kochi: Delhi Dynamos’ October is cluttered with matches, exactly twice the more game-time than their hosts for Saturday, Kerala Blasters. Head coach Josep Gombau had postponed his team’s arrival in Kochi until match-day morning as they decided to have an extra day’s recovery at home having played in a 1-2 defeat to ATK on Wednesday.
Assistant coach Mridul Banerjee, who was assigned to handle the pre-match Friday, however, refused to blame the fixtures — a pile up of six games throughout the month, with four matches to be played in a span of just 10 days.
“Maybe, may not be,” replied Banerjee on whether the lack of adequate recovery time for their players could have an adverse impact against Kerala that had its entire squad barring three players well rested for two full weeks, during the international break.
The Blasters, with four points from two matches, have also been fortunate with the fixtures as after today they end October with an away tie in Jamshedpur on the 29th.
Even as David James said that the “two weeks were a wonderful break”, during which he was able to fine-tune a few areas of concern, the Kerala head coach has refused to treat it as an advantage in his side’s favour as he pointed to the previous round.
“Mumbai played three days ago before they came here and took a point,” said James. Mumbai had denied Kerala consecutive wins and back-to-back clean-sheets when their substitute Pranjal Bhumij scored from range in added time to settle the tie at 1-1 on October 5.
Both Kerala and Delhi have announced fully fit squads, with James likely to have French centre-back Cyril Kali available for his first minutes after an injury in pre-season. Defender Anas Edathodika will complete his third and final match suspension that was served at the end of last season.
Delhi that had lost both home and away last season, to Kerala, will be hoping to get their first win of the season. Mridul Banerjee has claimed that they have worked on addressing the issue of conceding late goals — two 84th minute goals in their last two matches.