The hosts have won just one game in the season so far.
Table toppers Chennai City FC take on Manipur-based side Neroca FC in a 12th Hero I-League encounter at the Nehru stadium in Coimbatore on Saturday, November 24, 2018. The kick-off is slated for 5 PM IST.
Home team Chennai, coached by Singaporean Akbar Nawas, has been the most impressive side of the league by far, winning four out of their five games and remaining unbeaten.
They have impressed not only with results but also with their style of play with their 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 scored nine of the 13 goals scored by Chennai in the league, which is an astounding five goals ahead of second-best Gokulam FC.
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, among the top three conceders, that they have till now.
Akbar was as level-headed as ever in pre-match comments saying, “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 tomorrow which will be a tough game.”
Neroca’s Spanish coach Manuel Fraile, on the other hand, will be happy to find his side in the position they find themselves in after four games. It could have been far worse than the five points and sixth position, given they have scored only three goals yet.
Two of those goals came in the last game against Real Kashmir up 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.
He reflected the confidence after that win while sharing his thoughts on match-day eve saying, “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”, He added, “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.”
Playing in Coimbatore will be completely different conditions and Fraile’s side will have to quickly adapt to the humidity in particular. They will also be hoping that they get back inspirational Japanese winger Katsumi Yusa back to full fitness and ready to start as well as Singham Subhash Singh back in his elements in the forward line, for any chance to put it over a rampaging Chennai City.
- Exclusive: My goals are to finish as top scorer and help my team flourish– Pedro Manzi
- Is East Bengal’s shallow midfield a cause for concern this season?
- For the first time in history, both I-League and ISL clubs set to represent India in continental competition
Chennai City FC
The southerners do not have any major absentees in their squad and are raring to go into the game.
The Orange Brigade also do not have any injury concerns and are looking forward to face the league leaders.
Chennai City FC- Kabir (GK), Roberto, Thangalakath, Sandro, Edwin, Jesuraj, Charles, Gaurav, Nestor, Kamaraj, Manzi.
NEROCA FC- Boerchio (GK), Kallon, Ashok, Shaikhom, Naorem, Jerry, Chidi, Malemnganba, Thangmuansang, Aryn, Sushil
The game will be telecasted live at 5 PM on Saturday on Star Sports 3 along with Hotstar and Jio TV.