Kerala Blasters coach Steve Coppell on Friday said history between his side and Chennaiyin FC means nothing to him as they gear up to take on the defending champions in an Indian Super League (ISL) football match here on Saturday.
“I have been made aware of the history but it means nothing to me. As far as I am concerned, it’s just another game. This is a different team, different players, different year and different occasion. What at stake now is totally different from what was at stake in the past. We play them in a couple of weeks, so may the best team come out on top in both these fixtures,” Coppell said during the pre-match media interaction.
Kerala Blasters and Chennaiyin FC have been involved in some heated contests in the past with Kerala knocking Chennaiyin out in the semi-finals of the inaugural edition.
The Blasters are riding high after scoring a come-from-behind win against FC Goa in Goa. Kerala were down by a goal in the first session but staged a recovery in the second session to floor FC Goa 2-1 and jump to the fifth spot with eight points from six matches.
Coppell agreed the win has done his team a world of good and they are now determined to continue with their progress.
“Any win in this division is very important because it's so close. Coming to the half-way stage, there is no great deal of points between teams at the top and those at the bottom. Our win against Goa, psychologically, was quite important for us,” said the Englishman.
Chennaiyin had no such luck in the previous match and were forced to settle for a point, despite taking the lead against FC Pune City. The defending champions had jumped up the ladder with victory over NorthEast United FC but the draw against Pune slowed them down.
Chennaiyin are now at home for the next two matches and coach Marco Materazzi underlined the importance of registering victories, rather than dropping points.
“The two games (at home) will be fundamental to us. It’s difficult to win one game in the league and two in a row is even tougher. We know we are facing a really good team with solid defence and quality in attack. If we had won against Pune, we would have been at the top, but that didn’t happen. We have to have a change in mentality once again and face (Kerala) with an aggressive mentality. In this league, you can never stop,” said Materazzi.
Materazzi did not offer any hints on the team he would use for the Southern derby but if he chooses to field marquee player John Arne Riise, the Liverpool legend will be up against a familiar English Premier League rival. At the other end of the field will be Kerala Blasters marquee Aaron Hughes, the former Fulham defender (2007-08) who played against Riise (then Liverpool FC) in the EPL.