Rene Meulensteen On The Upcoming Match And Injury Concerns

by Admin on Dec 30, 2017
Would you say that this is probably the biggest match for Kerala considering how it's been hyped up, not by the teams but by the fans?

We have to treat it as one of the games with a little bit of edge to it because it's got a bit of a derby feel, which is always good. It makes the game special. And I know the fans are up for it looking at the responses going around, and that will be good for us. We are looking forward to it.

Will Dimitar Berbatov be available tomorrow?

He had a good week of training behind him. We have to access him today and tomorrow, but we are very hopeful.

Is this a good time to play Bengaluru FC, because they are coming after two straight losses?

It's a good question, but when we talk tomorrow after the game I can give you the answer because the manager always wants a reaction after a defeat and a good response from the players. But we don't know, we have to see. That is where we have to focus on ourselves. We played a really good game at home against NorthEast United FC, we won the game 1-0. I think 3-0 or 4-0 would have been a fair result with all the chances we had created. That was a positive performance for us and we played a good game against Chennayin FC. It's very unfortunate to not go in front because I think we would have taken all 3 points. Those are the chances we have to take. We went behind with the penalty. So, the team showed great character to bounce back in the final minutes and that gives us an enormous boost to go into this game. But we know now that we can play good football, we know that we can create chances, we have gone back to defending in a proper way. So we will look forward to this challenge.

Is it true that considering it was a very late goal that equalized for Kerala Blasters FC, you could come out of the match in better spirits considering the late drama? Instead of losing 3 points, we came back with a point in an away game, so does that lift the spirit in the camp?

Yes, 100%. We would have been very disappointed if we would have come back without a point. To get that point, which was vital in the end, the most important thing that I will be pleased about is that I think everybody on the pitch knew how tough of a season it was and it could have gone either way. But instead, the players raised themselves and, like I said, they showed great character and really good pattern of play to get the goal.

The team is great form, a win at home and a good result at Chennai and then there was a good amount of break, after 22nd, almost 9 days rest and it was the festive period as well, Christmas came in and there is New Year's Eve. It's kind of a distraction for everyone, you could lose the momentum you had. How difficult is it to keep the players motivated?

It's a very good question. First of all, I can't change Christmas. It is there. I feel it is very important for every individual to have the opportunity to celebrate important periods as they wanted to with their friends and family and everything. You want to give everybody that space and I especially don't see it as an interruption, I see it as a welcoming break because people have a break with a purpose. Everybody can recharge their batteries because we know now that the games are coming thick and fast so sometimes it's very good to take a step away from it. It was very good because of the last goal at Chennai, everybody left in good spirits and they came back in good spirits. So hopefully the break will help us to put a very good performance tomorrow.

Mark Sifneos seems to have cemented his position as a starter. Iain Hume keeps coming off the bench to replace him. What extra qualities does Sifneos have to have earned a starting spot replacing Hume or are there any injury concerns for Hume or is it just tactical?

There is this one similarity between Sifneos and Hume, they are both strikers but there are more differences. The style of striker, the physical make up; Humey is smaller, more tenacious, Mark is big and taller, Humey is in his 30s, Mark is only 21. So all those things add up. The only thing with Humey is that his season has been a stop-start because of his injuries, that's the reason. So that's why I have been overly careful, same is with Wes Brown. There is no aim to rush people back if you have other replacements in that position. I think we did the right thing with Wes, you could see that in the game against Chennaiyin FC, and hopefully, we can do the same with Humey, especially now when you come into this game, there is a run of games, games come thick and fast. We need to utilize the squad, we need to utilize the input of the foreigners in the best possible way. So, I'm sure that he's going to play still a very important part for us.

Rino Anto seems to have picked up a hamstring knock. How long is he going to be out for?

Luckily it is not as bad as I initially thought. I thought we'd lose him straight away for 3-4 weeks but that's not the case. He picked up recovery straight away. He's continuing that recovery, he's not available for tomorrow, unfortunately, but with another week for recovery and training, we'll have another look before the game against Pune FC.

Are there any more injury concerns?

The only one further than that is Pritamkumar Singh. He has dislocated his shoulder and Karan Shawney is still recovering from a little bit of a hamstring knock. Other than that we are looking fine.

How important do you think it is to have an away section for fans and one more question: do you have any comments on the eighth foreign player?

I don't know how important it is, I think it's more important when we play away and it showed again in Chennai, how many Kerala fans turned up, and it was fantastic. In my opinion, it's all about the rules and regulations and I don't know what kind of fans Bengaluru FC will bring, but you will have to respect them. But I'm sure that our fans will overpower them. On the eighth foreign player, Keziron, I'm really glad to finally manage to bring him into the squad. A very young promising player, we talked a lot about in the midfield, what we will be trying to do in the midfield. I think he will be a really good addition to fill that position. He's very versatile, very energetic. So hopefully, you will see him soon.

We normally don't have the system of having a match on New Year's Eve, it's not part of the tradition. How good is it for the country, which is emerging in the field of football?

I think it is brilliant because it is such a special day, the year is coming to an end, we have an obligation and responsibility to make sure they can start the New Year in the best possible fashion, and hopefully get a really good result. And then you can go into the celebration, with friends and family into the New Year. I am used to playing during Christmas in England, Boxing Day and of course New Year's Day. They are special and I think it's going to be an adverb for the Indian Super League, football, and the fans.
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