AFC Cup Preview : Defensively strong Chennaiyin lock horns with free-scoring Abahani Dhaka
Written by: Rutvij Joshi
The Marina Machans will look to cement top spot in Group E of the continental competition.
Chennaiyin FC will be hosting Bangladesh's powerhouse Abahani Dhaka Limited in their third game of the AFC Cup campaign. Both the teams are level on four points after two outings, but the Indian side is leading the group thanks to a better goal-difference.
The coaches of both the teams spoke to the media before the game:
John Gregory (Chennaiyin FC)
Chennaiyin boss John Gregory gave his views about the game by saying, “We are looking forward to this game. We enjoy playing on this surface and the stadium is fantastic. We are in good shape ahead of the game.”
When asked about the scorching heat he asserted, ”The heat is unusual for me, I think. This is really hot and in the last week, we’ve had to get used to unbelievable temperatures. In training, we do it as late as we can in the day. The players are working really hard and focusing on making sure they are in good condition for the match. One of the great things about this group is that they always want to train more, even after the training session. It is really impressive. Hopefully, they can get a good result for us.”
He was then asked how pleased he was with the performance of his defence and explainned, “The defence has been very good. I want it to continue, obviously. It has been down to the players who have been very focused. Mailson (Alves) and Eli Sabia have struck up a partnership after the troublesome ISL season. Jerry (Lalrinzuala) has come back in and looks more like his old self.”
When asked about their opponents missing key players he said, “I just focus on our team and what we’ve got to do. If they have players missing, it is unlucky for them. But, I will worry about our team and make sure ours is the strongest team we can play. We lost Dhanpal Ganesh for a whole season, which was big for us. But, those are not excuses.” he signed off
Mario Lemos (Abahani Dhaka)
Opposition tactician Mario Lopes gave his views about the game by saying, ”It’ll be a crucial game for us. If you want to progress in the next round we need to win here in India, but it’s three points and we’ll approach the game the same way we approached last two games.”
When asked about the secret to breaking down the Chennai back four he said, “They are playing with two centre-backs who are very strong (Mailson, Sabia). They are big, Brazilian boys and we won’t be playing long balls. They might not have conceded, but we have been scoring a lot. They are capable of conceding and we will look to make sure we find a way past them.”
When asked about the absence of star striker Sunday Chizoba Lemos said, “Unfortunately, Sunday could not get his visa and will not play. I feel bad for the player. He deserved to be here. It is an important match for us, but these things happen. It is out of our control. He is our top scorer. But, no excuses, we are prepared. It is a loss, but it is an opportunity for a new player. We have a good chance tomorrow.”
He was then asked how the team has adapted to the heat and said, “It is different. It is like my home town in Portugal. I feel at home. In Dhaka, the weather is humid. I feel like being in an oven here. It is different. It is tough, but we are professionals and we will be okay in the end.”
When asked about how good it is to have foreigners who have played in these conditions before the coach pointed out, “I spoke with Nelo Vingada before coming and our foreigners (Wellington Priori, Kervens Belfort and Masih Saighani) have played in India and have good understanding of the game here. They might have a better understanding of Indian teams than me. Belfort has really stepped it up in the AFC Cup and he is raring to go and looks motivated. He looks happy to be back in India.”
Raphael Augusto is out due to a knee injury. Apart from him everyone else is fit.
Experienced forward Sunday Chizoba hasn't travelled with the squad due to visa issues and two experienced defenders Topu Barman and Tutul Hussain are out due to injury. Everyone else is available for selection.
Karanjit, Renthelei, Sabia, Alves, Lalrinzuala, Thoi, Germanpreet, Herd, Thapa Vineeth, Lalpekhlua.
Alam, Hasan, Priori, Saighani, Faisal, Fahad, Rana, Miya, Jewel, Belfort, Jibon.
Did You Know?
- Chennaiyin have scored three goals in this AFC Cup campaign (including a qualifier) so far, and all have come from different goalscorers.
- All the foreign players of the Bangladeshi side have experience of playing in India before.
The game is scheduled to kickoff at 7:30 PM IST at The Arena in Ahmedabad, but there is no official broadcast scheduled in India.
Published: Mon Apr 29, 2019 08:20 PM IST