Both sides are in a good run of form going into this game…
Chennaiyin FC welcome rivals Kerala Blasters to Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Friday evening as they hope to not only add to their fine form in the Indian Super League but also add to the miseries of their struggling neighbours.
Fourth-placed Chennaiyin are in fine form after winning two games – against FC Goa and NorthEast United – in quick succession before drawing with Pune City on 23 October. Being the most consistent club in the division, they will look to keep up their consistency by qualifying for the knockout stages again.
Blasters, on the other hand, are coming off only their second victory of the season, over bottom club FC Goa at Fatorda Stadium. Kervens Belfort and Mohammed Rafi found the net for the Blasters after Julio Cesar had handed the Gaurs a slender 1-0 advantage at half-time whistle. Sitting fifth in the ISL standings and just three points behind leaders Mumbai City, they will fancy their chances of catapulting themselves to the top half of the table.
Chennaiyin have rotated their squad to ultimate success, with even names such as John Arne Riise, Bernard Mendy, Jeje Lalpekhlua, and Raphael Augusto making way for other players. Accordingly, the Chennaiyin coach can be tipped to make wholesale changes to the squad, considering the fact that his side play host to Mumbai City on Wednesday night.
Neither side have injury concerns, but the Blasters manager revealed that a few of his personnel carried niggles although he shrugged off those niggles later, stating those would not affect his team selection in any way; he said he would have everyone available for selection.
Head to Head
Chennaiyin and Blasters share easily the most intense rivalry in the competition, with fans of either side resenting the other side religiously. However, the Chennaiyin faithful have had the laugh on most occasions, with the Friday’s visitors winning just one game so far, compared with the Blues’ four wins. One game has ended in a draw.
Marina Arena has been unkind to the Blasters as they have shipped nine goals in three visits there. However, the Blasters coach pledges not to allow the previous results to influence what the scoreboard displays when the two sides meet.
Man to Watch
Eli Sabia Filho-Chennaiyin FC: Since his ISL debut in the 2-0 rout of FC Goa, Brazil defender Eli Sabia Filho has become undroppable with his strength and knack for tackles helping his side bounce back after a nightmarish start to their ISL 2016 campaign. His impact has been so huge that the Chennaiyin manager now starts marquee player Riise and fan favourite Mendy only in alternate games. Despite the Blasters boasting the worst scoring record in the league, he will need to at his impeccable best on Friday night.
Sandesh Jhingan-Kerala Blasters:In addition to boasting the worst scoring record, Coppell’s men also have the second best defensive record in the league, with Indian international Sandesh Jhingan marshaling the Blasters defence. They have conceded just four goals this season, a record bested only by second-placed NorthEast United. With Chennaiyin proving the strongest attacking unit – they average a league’s best of 1.4 goals per game – the 23-year-old Chandigarh-born centre-back will need to offer his hundred percent to help his side eke out a positive result at the lion’s den.
Kerala Blasters: Nandy, Chaudhari, Hughes, Jhingan, Hossain, Mahamat, Currais, Rafique, Chopra, German, Nazon
Chennaiyin: Kerr, Wadoo, Riise, Mendy, Singh, Mulder, Augusto, Sahni, Rane, Succi, Lalpekhlua
The match will be telecast live on Star Sports 2, Star Sports HD2, Star Sports 1, Star Sports HD1, Star Gold, Star Gold HD, Jalsha Movies, Jalsha Movies HD, and Hotstar.
You can also follow Khel Now’s live text commentary of the game, with our ISL correspondent Praveen R. Paramasivam reporting things as they happen from Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
Photo © ISL Media
Preview by Khel Now Correspondent from Chennai Praveen Paramasivan.