Both teams come into the game in contrasting form, but are equally in need of the points.
Chennaiyin FC host ATK at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Thursday in one of the Indian Super League (ISL) most iconic fixutes. Both managers met the press ahead of the match in the pre-match press conference and were keenly looking forward to the clash.
“We had to change after 45 minutes in the first game,” said the Englishman. “We changed for the better. We’ve had two wins after that. It’s pleasing. It shows the team’s character and passion. I have six Indian boys, who had a good second half against Goa. The last two games, I have started with the same line-up. I’ve been happy with the last two and a half games. We have scored three times in the last 10 minutes of the match. That shows my boys will keep going until the last minute.”
Despite the positive results, Jeje Lalpekhlua’s form has been a cause for concern, with the India international striker still goalless. The manager, however, isn’t bothered. “As long as somebody is scoring, I’m not bothered,” he said. “I though his performance against Pune was his best thus far. He works exceptionally hard. He’s unselfish and plays for the team. If he continues to work hard and do the things he does best, the goals will come.”
Chennaiyin have only won a solitary game against Thursday’s opponents ATK. On the record he said, “They have been champions twice. They have beaten many teams in the ISL since the inception. They are a huge club, with history to back it up as well. It’ll be a huge game for us, the fans, TV and the media. It’s a clash of champions. We put [our winless record against] NorthEast United to bed. We’d do the same with ATK.”
Defending champions ATK lie at the bottom of the table having earned two points in three games, but coach Teddy Sheringham feels confident. “There’s always pressure on everybody, but nobody ever wants to be at the bottom of the table,” he said. “We’ve only drawn twice. If you look at the positive side, however, it’s not too bad. I’m happy with how things are transforming. We need to put it together all on matchday now.”
“We have one goal which came from a free-kick. We need to convert possession and chances. We could have won the 0-0 draws. If it had been a boxing match, the match would have been won on points. You need to score goals to win games and we have players who can do that.”
The ATK manager revealed that he’ll be shorn of injured Carl Baker and Eugeneson Lyngdoh who are both out for the season, while marquee player Robbie Keane has returned to India and could feature if needed. Chennaiyin, on the other hand, have everyone fit.