Chennai City host East Bengal at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Sunday night and coach Soundararajan promises to “go all out” amidst the recent controversy involving Haroon Fakhruddin Amiri and poor form. . .
Chennai City are winless in five games, with their last win coming against Mumbai Football Club one month ago. However, they have suffered defeated in only one of their recent four home games. Asked whether the team is confident ahead of the East Bengal game, Soundararajan said, “East Bengal are a better side than us. They are more organised. They are amongst the best sides in I-League, alongside our Wednesday’s opponents Bengaluru. We’re eagerly waiting for the chance to lock horns with them.
“The draw against BFC served as a morale boost for us. They’re clearly one of the best sides in Asia. Their run in the Asian Federations Cup well documented. As the players are confident, we’ll go all out.”
Soundararajan, who had previously had the habit of revealing the starting eleven in the pre-match press conferences, chose to keep mum about the team he would be deploying on Sunday night. However, he stated that Yumnam Raju and Edwin Sydney Vanspaul had recovered fully ahead of the Sunday’s crunch clash.
Chennai have drawn four games at home this season, with Minerva Punjab, Churchill Brothers, DSK Shivajians and Bengaluru. Only two of their seven losses have come at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Asked how he could convert the draws into wins, the former Andhra Pradesh coach said, “Our system is defensive; 4-4-1-1 is often set up to be compact at the back. Playing against good sides like BFC or DSK, who are experienced teams, we did not want to take any risk. A draw is a bare minimum. If our attack is on point, we can snatch a victory. We’ll weigh up our chances of curating an attacking set-up in the future, surely.”
When questioned about the impact of Amiri’s departure, manager Ingulab Raghunathan, who has never accompanied the coach to press conferences before, chimed in. He stated, “Playing against DSK and BFC is different. The coach decided to adopt a different strategy against BFC. Once the line-up was announced, Amiri’s attitude changed completely. He didn’t want to warm up with the rest of the team. He even began talking with the BFC coach; we have evidence for our claims – a fan footage shows his talking with the BFC coach. That’s not the attitude we want at the club.
“Whatever has happened has happened. We’re looking forward to the future. Our confidence is high; you can even say we haven’t been more confident this season.”
East Bengal coach does not fancy a repeat of Churchill Brothers defeat
East Bengal manager Trevor Morgan refused to undermine their Sunday’s opponents as he stated that the Tamil Nadu side would put up a brave fight this weekend.
“It’s a very important game,” said the former Bournemouth striker. “We need all three points to remain in the I-League title race. If things go our way today and we do what we have to do tomorrow night, we can be atop the table tomorrow night. With five games left, a lot can happen.
“We’re expecting nothing less than a very difficult game. As I said before, any team is capable of beating any other team in this division. We found that out the hard way recently. Coming on the back of two good away wins, we should have won [against Churchill Brothers], but we conceded two in the first half. Although we came back in the second, little could we do to turn the game around. I need to make sure it doesn’t happen tomorrow.”