The Marina Machans will also seek to avenge their defeat in the reverse fixture earlier this season.
Chennaiyin FC coach John Gregory was full for praise for his players ahead of their concluding Hero Indian Super League clash against Mumbai City FC and will be tempted to give some lesser-known players a chance at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai, on Saturday.
Chennaiyin FC have qualified for the semi-finals and can finish anywhere between two and four. The Chennaiyin FC coach said he was not bothered about their semi-final opponents and will start focusing on that crucial game only after the game against Mumbai.
“I will make one or two changes. Give minutes to some of the guys who were on the bench or upstairs. They thoroughly deserve the chance. If they perform well enough, and they fit into the system, I always have a (selection) headache (for the next game),” said Gregory during the pre-match media interaction.
The experienced coach who has almost 30 years of coaching experience which includes managing some top teams could not stop praising his team’s professionalism.
“I’ve got a group of incredible players. I’ve been with several teams in my career but never known a group quite like this one. Absolute pleasure to be around and work with. They deserve all plaudits. I hope we can at least take one step further (and qualify for the final),” said Gregory.
Chennaiyin FC won the title in 2015 but failed to qualify for the playoffs last season under Italian World Cup winner Marco Materazzi.
At the other end, Mumbai City FC failed in their bid to seek qualification after losing their last match against Delhi Dynamos FC. It must have been hard to digest for coach Alexandre Guimaraes who took his team to the top of the table last season but the Costa Rican said there is still plenty to play for.
“We have not lost our perspective in terms of playing the last game with all the resources available for us to play. So, I will put the best players available to play, because we have been through a lot of situations and injuries and let’s see who is available. We will try to win the game. If we can win tomorrow, we can finish sixth,” said Guimaraes.
Mumbai City FC are placed seventh with 23 points and will overtake sixth-placed Kerala Blasters (25 points) if they can get full points from their last match against Chennaiyin FC.
Chennaiyin FC 4 – 2 Mumbai City FC (1 Draw).
Jeje Lalpekhlua (Chennaiyin FC)
The Mizo sniper has been his team’s go-to man up front. He has used his strength to good effect along with his clinical finishing. He has seven goals to his name so far and will look to net some more against Mumbai to give Chennaiyin a boost in the next phase of the league.
Everton Santos (Mumbai City)
The Brazilian has been a key figure up front for the Islanders. He has used his speed and dribbling abilities to score and provide with equal fervour. Everton has five goals and five assists to his name and will look to inspire his team to a final win over Chennaiyin.
John Gregory may use a 4-2-3-1 formation, which will depend on services from the wide areas and midfield for the striker.
Goalkeeper: Karanjit Singh
Defenders: Inigo Calderon, Sanjay Balmuchu, Henrique Sereno, Jerry Lalrinzuala
Midfielders: Dhanpal Ganesh, Anirudh Thapa, Raphael Augusto, Rene Mihelic, Gregory Nelson
Forward: Jeje Lalpekhlua
Chennaiyin head coach on the importance of the fixture: “It’s a big game for us. The players are playing for places in the semi-finals. It’s really up to those guys and the way they go about the game tomorrow. We obviously want to finish strongly. It’s our last regular season game and in all our games, we have been tested.”
Alexandre Guimaraes may opt for a 4-2-3-1 formation, that gives Mumbai numerous options going forward.
Goalkeeper: Amrinder Singh
Defenders: Raju Gaikwad, Lucian Goian, Gerson Vieira, Sehnaj Singh
Midfielders: Sahil Tavora, Achille Emana, Sanju Pradhan, Abinash Ruidas, Thiago Santos
Forward: Rafa Jorda
Mumbai head coach on his team’s aim for the encounter: “We may not have qualified, but we have not lost our respect. We have all the resources available for our last match, so I would put the best players available tomorrow. And then we will obviously be going for the win because then we will finish at the sixth place. That is a position where we can be satisfied.”
- Chennaiyin have the least number of losses (4) this season but has drawn the second-most number of games (5)
- Mumbai have drawn just twice this season, but have lost more games (8) than they have won (7)
Mumbai City FC 1 – 0 Chennaiyin FC (10th December 2017 at the Mumbai Football Arena)
Form Guide (Last five matches)
Chennaiyin FC: D D W D L
Mumbai City FC: L W W L L