Kochi: Kerala Blasters FC will take on Bengaluru FC on Sunday, in what has been billed as the third Southern Derby in the Hero Indian Super League.
ISL 2017: Off-colour Blasters to take on Bengaluru
Acknowledging the importance of the game, Kerala Blasters coach Rene Meulensteen said, "Well, we have to treat this match as one with a little bit of a special edge. It has a derby feel to it. That's good. I have heard the fans talk about it so we are looking forward to the game."
For Bengaluru, a win will take them to the second spot in the league standings with 15 points. On the other hand, Meulensteen's side will be searching for only their second win of the season.
Last season's runners-up, Kerala Blasters have found it hard to get going this time around in the ISL so far. With just one win and four draws from their six games, they have only picked up seven points and are placed eighth.
The availability of star striker Dimitar Berbatov for Sunday's match is still in question.
Commenting on Berbatov's fitness, Meulensteen said, "He has got a good day's training behind him. But we'll still have to assess him. So let us see."
Kerala's opponents, Bengaluru FC, have also suffered a dip in form recently after making a fast start in their debut in the season.
Albert Roca's side has lost two successive games, and a trip to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kaloor on Sunday to play in front of the roaring 'Yellow Army' is going to be a daunting task.
Bengaluru FC assistant coach Naushad Moosa, said that his side's recent losses have been due to the competition getting tougher.
"If you see what happened is that we started quite early. We started in July. We had the AFC Cup and other commitments which were good for us. The other teams have now started to gel and that's making it difficult. Also, we have been playing a lot of games away from home. The competition has become tougher," he said.
Moosa also said the game against Kerala is going to be a very tough one for his side.