Punching bags Chennai City welcome fellow corporate outfit DSK Shivajians to Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Sunday night as they look to finish their debut season on a high note. . .
Chennai have proven a solid side as their passing and midfield stability have proven the strongest aspects of their game. However, their inability to produce killer passes consistently has seen them score the second least goals in the division. Their defence, despite boasting experience and quality, has failed to keep the opposition strikers as bay as they have the worst defensive record.
With six games left, they will be looking to turn things around as they sit only five points behind fifth-placed I-League juggernauts Bengaluru. However, Shivajians will make renaissance difficult as they themselves are looking to convert good performances into wins.
Chennai are coming off back-to-back defeats to northeast oppositions Aizawl and Shillong Lajong while the visitors are heading into the bottom-half game on the back of away defeats to Mohun Bagan and Churchill Brothers.
Zakeer Mundampara, who shone in the recent Chennai Senior Division games, will partner Dhanpal Ganesh in the midfield while Marcos Vinicius returns to the squad in an unfamiliar territory – on the flank. Charles de Souza and Haroon Amiri will lead the line-up, with under-22 local talent set to keep his place. Denson Devadas will sit out the fixture through a knee injury. Injured Edwin Sydney Vanspaul will accompany the veteran on the sidelines.
Talismanic South Korean striker Kim Seung-Yong has been ruled out for the remainder of the season thanks to an anterior cruciate ligament injury. Serbian defender Sasha Kolunija will likely miss the game. Indian international striker Sumeet Passi, having recently injured his ankle, will not feature.
Soundararajan: “Our performance was not up to the mark against Aizawl. We worked on the mistakes we committed in the Aizawl game on the training ground. We have changed the system, too. We find ourselves in the last place, so we have to go all out tomorrow. DSK Shivajians are as strong as us; any team can win the game.”
Dave Rogers: “We beat Chennai at home earlier this season; it was a good game. However, I-League is so close. Anybody is capable of finishing anywhere in this league. There’s still a lot of points to play for. Teams that now find consistency and string wins together can finish as high as the league takes them. We can’t make excuses.”
With the nascent season being Chennai’s first I-League campaign, they have never met save for the reverse fixture at Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex. The game ended 2-0 courtesy of goals from foreign recruits Juan Quero and Seung-Yong despite Chennai looking the better side for the better part of 90 minutes.
Players to watch
Chennai City: Haroon Amiri
The Chennai manager announced on Saturday evening that the former Afghanistan skipper would feature up front. Both Soundararajan and former coach Robin Charles Raja have used him in a variety of positions, but he has always delivered. He will look to find his goal-scoring boots as the season intensifies having missed a handful of games through injuries.
DSK Shivajians: Milan Singh
Milan Singh, who deservedly earned India call-up recently courtesy of his superb performances for Dave Rogers’ side, will be expected to keep up his fine form. Despite his fine form, he has scored just a single goal; he will look to add to his tally in Chennai.
Chennai City: Karanjit; Abhishek, Echezona, Ravanan, Debabrata; Tank, Ganesh, Zakeer, Nandhakumar; Amiri, Charles
DSK Shivajians: Subrata; Lalnusiama, Kima, Gouramangi, Jerry; McFaul, Milan; Halicharan, Quero, Mawihmingthianga; Naro Hari
Ten 2 telecasts the game live. Fans can stream the game online or read Khel Now’s match report immediately after the matchday official blows the final whistle.