Guwahati, Feb 16 : Kerala Blasters will have their work cut out when they take on laggards NorthEast United in an Indian Super League match at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium here on Saturday.
Kerala Blasters have a fighting chance of qualifying for the semi-finals with 21 points from 15 matches.

They must win all their three remaining matches to have a chance of qualifying and may still not make it.

The visitors' coach David James will be up against a man who coached him in the past, Avram Grant, but pleasantries will be exchanged only till kick-off as the visitors look for nothing less than full points.

James, the former England goalkeeper, will have to start off by outwitting NorthEast United coach Grant, who was his coach at Portsmouth FC in 2010.

"The coach was my player. Eight years ago we made it to the final of the (FA) Cup. We had an unbelievable achievement. He was the captain. I wish him all the best but we will try to win the game. It's good for the future that the team will not give up and show good mentality," said NorthEast United coach Avram Grant during the pre-match media interaction.

NorthEast United are already out of the competition but will need the three points to give their home fans something to cheer about. Two of the three victories for NorthEast United have come at home.

"You all know what happened in the first half of the season. We tried to improve things that needed to improve. We came out of the situation.

"From being good in counter, now we dominate and create a lot of chances. Last three games is typical to what happened, control the game, miss chances and rivals score from one half-attack. The results are better than the first half but not like we expected," said Grant.

Kerala Blasters allowed defending champions ATK to snatch points from them with a late draw in their last game which halted their run of two successive victories.

Assistant coach Hermann Hreioarsson admitted that the focus has been on them ahead of this clash and they are now ready to put their best foot forward.

"We are still in it. We have to go into every game playing for a win. We are happy with our progress. In the last game, we created many chances: 18 shots and 25 crosses," said Hreioarsson.

Kerala Blasters can reach a maximum of 30 points and will need FC Pune City (28 points), Chennaiyin FC (27 points) and Jamshedpur FC (25 points) to drop points.

(Posted on 17 February 2018, 1680162168 34O239O173O144)