Table-toppers Chennai City will look to continue their invincible run when they take on Manipur-based Neroca in the I-League at Coimbatore on Saturday.
Chennai, coached by Singaporean Akbar Nawas, has been the most impressive side of the league so far, winning four out of their five games and drawing one.
The hosts have impressed with their style of play with the awesome Spanish quartet of Pedro Manzi, Nestor Jesus, Sandro Rodriguez and Roberto Eslava, forming the bulwark around which Akbar has built his side.
The contribution of the Spaniards is evident from the fact that striker Pedro and midfielders Nestor and Sandro have hit nine of the 13 goals scored by Chennai in the league, which is five goals more than second-best Gokulam.
Coach Akbar will, however, be wary of the fact that his side has not made it to the clean sheet list so far, and had it not been for Eslava’s performance at the back, they could have conceded more than seven.
“We should not rest on our laurels by thinking about the run or looking at the table. We should keep our feet firmly on the ground and focus to compete against Neroca, which will be a tough game,” Akbar said.
Neroca’s Spanish coach Manuel Fraile, on the other hand, will be happy to find his side at the sixth place with five points, given the fact that they scored only three goals so far.
Two of those goals came in the last game against Real Kashmir in Srinagar, a game which they did well to win given the conditions.
Their striker Nigerian Felix Chidi, also opened his account in the same game with a couple of strikes which should also warm coach Fraile’s heart. “After the win against Real Kashmir, we are more confident and given the conditions, its ideal time to face the table-toppers- we are ready for that,” said Fraile said.
“Indian players need to step up as well as the foreigners. It’s a test for everyone including me and we believe we can overcome if we play to our potential.”
“Manzi, Nestor and Sandro have been extremely good for them so far and they are ruthless. Defenders have a tough job tomorrow but we also have our plan in place. Now we just need to keep our head down and execute,” he added.
The conditions here at the Nehru stadium will be completely different for Fraile’s side and it will have to quickly adapt to the humidity in particular. Neroca will also be hoping that they get Japanese winger Katsumi Yusa back to full fitness and ready to start. Singham Subhash Singh is back in his element in the forward line. He will be the key to breach the Chennai City defence.
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