Christmas Eve football action is on the cards as the Islanders make the trip down south to Kochi. Petr Kratky’s Mumbai City will take on hosts Kerala Blasters on Sunday, December 24 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kaloor with the festive fixture kicking off at 8:00 PM.
Having to play six ISL games in a span of 21 days, Mumbai City have remained resolute in what is an incredibly packed December for the Islanders. With four from of the six games out of the way, the Islanders have come out with two draws and two wins – with the latest victory coming off the back of a thrilling 2-1 win against Mohun Bagan SG at the Mumbai Football Arena. The Islanders went a man down, with Akash Mishra’s sending off, and a goal down midway through the first half but the resilient ‘Mumbai spirit’ in the squad saw Petr Kratky’s side grab an equalizer right before half time through Greg Stewart. The visitors then saw two of their own being shown red before Bipin Singh came clutch as he so often does, grabbing the eventual winner. More red cards followed for Greg, Rahul Bheke and Vikram Partap as the curtains came down on a thrilling 2-1 win which will be remembered for the right and the wrong reasons.
The hosts Kerala Blasters have had a strong start to the season. Ivan Vukomanovic’s side sit second in the standings and have only lost twice in their domestic campaign. After a strong start, winning their first two games, the Blasters endured a 2-1 defeat in the reverse fixture at the Mumbai Football Arena, courtesy of goals from Jorge Pereyra Diaz and Apuia. Since that result in Mumbai, KBFC saw a five match unbeaten run which was snapped after a narrow 1-0 loss to league leaders FC Goa. The Blasters, who will be looking to even scores in this highly-anticipated clash in Kochi, come off the back of a slim 1-0 away against Punjab FC.
Coming off the back of a resilient result, the Islanders’ head coach Petr Kratky was all praises of his side’s attitude as he prepares for another tough test. Kratky said, “This is the moment when you realize, especially me because I'm new, that the team has the right mentality and attitude to overcome such obstacles. The team was one man short and yet went on to score the equalizer and later the winning goal. This is how we need to handle these situations and I was very proud of the boys.”
Looking ahead at tonight’s challenge, Sanjeev Stalin was optimistic about the Islanders’ chances in Kochi when they square up against his former side. “Everybody is waiting for this game; this game is going to be interesting for us to play because we have already beaten them at home. It is going to be quite challenging for us because we will be playing in front of a huge number of Kerala Blasters fans. As a team, we are focused. We are ready to try and get the three points. If we achieve those points, we will be near the top of the table,” said the young full-back.
Despite a flurry of red cards shown by referee Rahul Gupta – four for the Islanders – Petr Kratky was positive about his side’s composition as he said, “We have a very good squad. The players have an opportunity to play. I am looking forward to seeing them play maybe more than half an hour or 60 minutes, or the full game. So the players have an chance to show what they have got.”
Despite the absentees due to suspensions, Kratky announced a clean bill of health and commended the club’s medical staff on managing the players in such a tight schedule. He said, “Everyone is available. The young boys are ready to jump in. I think they're buzzing. You can feel it and they deserve the opportunity. Our medical staff are fantastic, fantastic people as well, and again, everyone in that physio room is doing a fantastic job.”
Where To Watch
The game will kick off at 8:00 PM IST on Tuesday, 24th of December 2023 and will be broadcasted on Sports 18 and Jio Cinema. For our global fans, you can find your broadcaster at www.indiansuperleague.com/broadcasters or follow all the action LIVE on our official Twitter account - @MumbaiCityFC.