On Friday, the Indian Super League (ISL) witnesses a tie in which both the teams are extremely desperate for three points. Both Kerala Blasters and FC Pune City have won just one game this season, but the former are higher up the table having drawn four games more.
Pune’s interim boss Pradhyum Reddy is aware of how the club is not enjoying the best of times and hopes that the away trip to Kochi can provide some salvation.
Reddy said, “If you look back to the last time we came here, almost a year ago, as a club, we have played 23 games and only five wins in those games. It has been four diff coaches and none of those individuals has won more than two games."
Pune City’s philosophy has always had a lot to do with the development of the young players and the coach is happy with how some of the individuals have performed. However, the former Bengaluru FC assistant manager has not ruled out activity in the January transfer window.
“One has to look beyond that and look at the individuals who are probably responsible for the way team is in. At the transfer window, we will look at these things and address these issues. I don't think players should think the season is over. If the players are performing, the clubs are coming in for them. I think our young boys have done fantastically well this season.
“If you look at the top four clubs in the I-league, we have got young players on loan,” he said as he explained how Pune are working towards establishing a promising platform for the youngsters."
Despite being 18 points behind league leaders Bengaluru, 12 points short of a play-off spot and just one point above Delhi Dynamos, who are at the bottom of the table, Reddy believes that his team still stands a chance to make it to the top four.
“I think every game so far, it is a do or die. Three points can propel you up the table. It is a game we cannot afford to lose. We don't have much time to prepare after that for Goa game. Irrespective of the playoffs, we want to finish as high as possible. Whatever we do in the next matches, it will help up us build for the following season," said the Pune City coach.
Unlike some of the coaches who feel that the international break harms the momentum of the teams, the Pune boss is looking to welcome the break with open arms. The players will have a chance to evaluate themselves and get some much-needed rest.
Reddy said, “Absolutely, it (the international break) is a welcome relief for us to have an international break. We will obviously lose a few players to the National Team when we come back in January to get the work done which we have not managed to do.
“On another note, it is a good chance for Hume to get properly fit. Unfortunately for him, he has been thrown straight back into the team after rehabilitation."
The 42-year-old is aware that Kerala are desperate for a win and expects a tough game at Kochi on Friday.
He said “You always look at the teams and have to assess them based on the team that is going to show up on the day. They would be thinking about us as it is the best time to play Pune City. It is a team that we have not beaten and with the crowd support, it is always tough. Both teams need three points. I think neither of us is going to sit back and play defensively.”
On injuries and other team news, Reddy said, “Diego (Carlos) has not travelled. Chhuantea (Fanai) is not 100 per cent fit. We have travelled with 20 players and all 20 are available.”