Kerala Blasters kick-off their LaLiga World Tournament campaign on Tuesday at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi, against A-League giants Melbourne City FC.
Other than the Indian Super League (ISL) side and Melbourne City, LaLiga club Girona too will feature in this pre-season tournament. After facing Melbourne City on July 24th, Blasters take on Girona on July 28th.
Ahead of the pre-season match, Kerala coach David James confirmed that former India U-17 goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem will start tomorrow (Tuesday). He said, “Dheeraj will start tomorrow. As a (former) India U17 goalkeeper, there is a lot of expectation. In training, he has been fantastic and deserves the opportunity to start tomorrow.”
James also gave an update on the injury concerns of his side. Star striker CK Vineeth will miss the game due to a jaw injury. “I have got a couple of injuries while we are away. CK VIneeth has an injury to the jaw. Sujith also sustained an injury,” said the former England goalkeeper.
The Kerala gaffer mentioned that his players are raring to play the match and want to win every game they play. He said, “I think when you have a group of players who are wanting to win everything, of course, yes we want to win the game.
“Melbourne are in a very similar situation to us, it is their first game in their pre-season like ours. Girona are close to starting their season.”
David James also suggested that it will be a tough job for an Indian club who have not been tested yet against clubs outside the country. He said, “The level of opposition, you have got one of the best sides in the A-League, one of the better sides in LaLiga (and so) we have to be realistic, we are not sure how good we are outside India.”
He continued, “We are very encouraged by the new signings. We have got a hungry group of players who want to win. It is a wonderful learning opportunity for us as a group of staff. We want to win but we want to do the right things as well.”
On asked about his pre-season plans after the LaLiga tournament, James said, “If you can tell me when the first game in ISL is, I will give you an answer (on pre-season plans).”
Melbourne City coach Warren Joyce did not seem worried with the rainfall in Kochi as he said, "I think the pitch is fantastic. It is not raining heavily compared to England. The facilities haven't been affected by the rain, no complaints about that. Just looking forward to the game."