Friday’s Indian Super League match will see hosts Chennaiyin FC take on Kerala Blasters FC in what will be the first home game for new CFC coach Owen Coyle as both sides look for a second win of the season.
The home team, languishing at ninth in the points table, has drawn its last two matches and will look to get back to winning ways.
It has been a tough season for CFC with poor on-field performances and head coach John Gregory leaving the club. The two-time champions have bounced back after a poor start and managed a win and two draws in the last three matches.
The Marina arena probably provides the right setting for CFC to return to winning ways and make its way up the points table.
Chennaiyin has conceded late goals and thrown away leads in recent matches.
They did it against Hyderabad, allowing the opponent to score in the 95th minute after taking the lead in the 92nd minute, but scored one in the dying moments to secure a win.
In the match against Odisha FC, the team was leading 2-1 until the 82nd minute when Aridane Santana’s strike saw them to drop two points.
In the fixture against against Jamshedpur FC, Chennaiyin was ahead until the 89th when a Issac Vanmalsawma goal denied them full three points.
The CFC defence has to tighten up if they aim to improve their prospects in the league.
“The first home game is exciting against a very good side. The players have worked very well. We have quality and I think Kerala are a very good side.
They look like they have a fully fit side. We are respectful of them but we do not fear any team, said Chennaiyins new coach Coyle.
Chennaiyin, with the worst attacking record in the league so far, have been guilty of starting matches slowly, scoring just one first-half goal in seven matches.
They have also spurned a lot of opportunities and need to find more sources for goals. Out of their five goals, four of them have come from the boot of Lithuanian marksman Nerijus Valskis.
It has not been a season to remember for Kerala either and they are now on a seven-game winless run.
“The brand of football we are playing now is very different. We have dominated matches, but there have been errors. But that is due to a lack of concentration. Despite having a lot of injuries, our players have shown a lot of character. We have dominated teams like Bengaluru, Goa etc. We are working on the individual errors and hopefully, we can improve, said Kerala Blasters assistant coach Ishfaq Ahmed.
With Raphael Messi Bouli finding some form upfront with four goals from the last three games, Keralas attack has looked a bit brighter and coach Eelco Schattorie will hope their fortunes take a turn for the better.
The possible return of Bartholomew Ogbeche will further improve Keralas attack while the likes of Mario Arques and Jeakson Singh will have an important role to play in the middle of the park.
Chennaiyin, on the other hand, will be pumped up for Coyle’s first home game in charge of the team. The new manager wants his team to play a high-intensity game and the players will be eager to impress the new coach and earn a spot in the starting XI.
“We like to press when we can, go after the opponent when we can. You saw that against Jamshedpur FC. We want to play at a high intensity. Thats what we are trying to do.
“The players know what the plan is and we are ready to try and win,” added Coyle.
With PTI Inputs