The Dutch coach was under no illusions as to the importance the game held for the Kerala fans.
“We have to treat it as one of the games with special sort of edge to it. It has got a derby feel to it, it is always good, makes the game special. We are looking forward to it,” he said at the pre-match press conference on Saturday.
There might not be a better time to take on Albert Roca’s men with the Sunil Chhetri-led team coming into the match on the back of two consecutive defeats but Meulensteen was wary of a response from the new entrants to the league.
“A manager always wants a reaction after a defeat. We don't know, we have to see. We have to focus on ourselves. We won against NorthEast (United) but 3-0 or 4-0 would have been a fairer result,” the Blasters’ boss stated.
The former Manchester United coach was delighted with his team’s response to going behind against Chennaiyin and said that they could very well have had three points instead of one.
“We would have been very disappointed if we came away empty handed. The most important thing I have been pleased about is that everybody knew how tough it was. They showed great character and a really good pattern of play,” he explained in context to the 1-1 draw with Chennaiyin.
With Christmas festivities bringing a small break in the schedule of the ISL, Muelensteen stated that it was a welcome change rather than a distraction.
“I cannot change Christmas. I think its very important for every individual to have the opportunity to celebrate. I don't see it as an interception. I see it as a welcoming break. The games are coming thick and fast. The late goal in Chennai helped everybody leave in good spirits,” the Dutchman said.
Dimitar Berbatov has been out of action for some time due to an injury and Meulensteen was hopeful of the Bulgarian making an appearance on Sunday.
“He (Dimitar Berbatov) has had a good week of training. We are hopeful,” he said.
The Blasters’ tactician also explained why he has preferred Mark Sifneos over Iain Hume in the striker’s position.
“One similarity between Sifneos (Mark) and Hume (Iain) - they are both strikers but there are more differences. Humey is smaller, tenacious. Mark is taller. The only thing with Hume is that his season has been stop-start. That's why I have been very careful, same with Wes Brown,” he stressed.
The Dutchman said that Rino Anto’s injury was not serious but he will not be available for selection against Bengaluru.
Kochi has implemented the concept of an away stand for supporters and Meulensteen said that other teams needed to follow suit.
“I think it is more important to have an away section when we play away, considering the number of fans,” he said.
The Dutchman also gave an update on Blasters’ latest overseas recruit Keziron Kizito who can play only after January 15.
“He (Keziron) is a very young promising player. We talked a lot about midfield. He will be a really good addition to the squad. He is very versatile and very energetic,” he remarked before signing off.