Chennai City eye upset victory over struggling I-League champions Bengaluru Football Club
Written by: Praveen R. Paramasivam
The Blues are looking to build on their win against Minerva Punjab...
Bottom club Chennai City play host to outgoing I-League champions Bengaluru at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Wednesday night, knowing an upset win can go a long way toward securing a respectable finish in their debut season in the top flight.
Despite bringing in proven I-League stars such as Dhanpal Ganesh, Dharmaraj Ravanan, Anyichie Echezona Celestine and Haroon Fakhruddin Amiri, the Tamil Nadu side find themselves in bad shape having won just two games so far. The weekend’s game presents them the opportunity to aim for a fresh start with 18 points left to fight for.
Bengaluru have looked shadows of their former selves this season. Their title chances are already over as they now sit 11 points adrift of league leaders East Bengal, at fourth.
Chennai have nothing to lose, as they are exempt from relegation this season having earned a corporate ticket, but Bengaluru’s pride is on the line, so fans can expect a defensive set-up from Soundararajan’s Chennai City while Bengaluru will line up looking to score as many goals as possible.
Edwin Sydney Vanspaul continuing to be injured may see underperforming Marcos Vinicius keep his place in the starting line-up; the coach may instead play local talent Antony Beautin, who has been in impressive form in CFL Senior League. Under-22 local talent Nandhakumar, who collected an assist and Hero of the Match award in the recent 1-1 draw with DSK Shivajians, will be hopeful of keeping his place despite Michael Soosairaj pushing for a starting berth. Yumnam Raju will not feature at least until the away fixture against Minerva Punjab.
Bengaluru are shorn of outfield players Lalchhuanmawia Fanai and Rino Anto while their goalkeeper contingent remains thin, with 6ft 1in shot-stopper Amrinder Singh on the sidelines with an injury.
Soundararajan-Chennai City: “When compared to us, they are more organised in all departments. We’ll go all out, though. All the bottom half sides have been able to upset the bigger teams. Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Aizawl have all been beaten by less-than-stellar sides. We’ll try our best to cause one such upset.”
Albert Roca-Bengaluru FC: “I’ll be honest about our title chances — we are a bit too far away. We are now focused on getting better game after game. I didn’t like the performance [in the 1-0 win] against Minerva [Punjab], so we have to improve on that. Our performance was hindered by the pitch there, but we will try to get three points.”
With either side being relatively new, they had never faced off on an I-League stage prior to this season. In the reverse fixture at Sree Kanteerava Stadium, the Steelmen secured a 2-0 win, courtesy of goals from Roby Norales and Chekiyot Kizhakkeveettil Vineeth.
Man to Watch
Dhanpal Ganesh-Chennai City: Despite Bengaluru’s form, they remain capable of imposing a solemn attacking threat. Going against the league's worst defence, they may even utilise the Wednesday's game to turn their faltering season around. The onus will be on Chennai's Ganesh, who recently earned an India call-up, to avert danger as Bengaluru, who now play possession football, can be dangerous with a lot of activity in the middle of the park.
CK Vineeth-Bengaluru FC: Despite outscoring veteran and marquee player Sunil Chhetri, he has been going through a barren run of late as he has received more yellow cards (2) than he has goals (1) in his last seven league appearances. Having already figured out the way to undo the Chennai team in the reverse fixture, he will look to find his goal-scoring boots again as Asian qualification has now become an uncertainty for his side.
Chennai City: Karanjit; Abhishek, Ravanan, Echezona, Debabrata; Nandhakumar, Ganesh, Devadas, Beautin, Amiri, Charles
Bengaluru: Arindam; Jhingan, Johnson, Juanan; Nishu, Watson, Lenny, Udanta; Vineeth, Jugovic, Chhetri
Ten 2 telecasts the game or fans can read Khel Now’s match report immediately after the matchday official blows the final whistle.
Published: Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:06 PM IST