THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

Embattled Chennaiyin FC ready for NorthEast challenge

Chennaiyin FC winger Lallianzuala Chhangte in training. (Photo courtesy: Chennaiyin FC)
Chennaiyin FC winger Lallianzuala Chhangte in training. (Photo courtesy: Chennaiyin FC)

Chennaiyin FC face a tough NorthEast United FC team at the Tilak Maidan in an away fixture in the Indian Super League on Sunday. Kicking off at 5 PM, this will be CFC’s first early kick-off of the campaign, against a side that is only one of three teams unbeaten so far in the ISL following two wins and three draws. 

Despite not getting the results and points their performances have merited, CFC have been arguably the most attractive side to watch, creating a flurry of chances in every game they have played so far. They outplayed Mumbai City FC in their previous encounter but succumbed to a 2-1 defeat following refereeing inefficiencies and indecisive defending from set-pieces.

CFC Head Coach Csaba Laszlo will be hopeful his side’s intent and vigor will translate into goals and wins, following two disheartening losses to Bengaluru FC and MCFC. Prior to that, Chennaiyin drew 0-0 against Kerala Blasters, having won their opening encounter 2-1 at Jamshedpur FC. It may be a favorable omen for Laszlo’s men, as they return to the Tilak Maidan for the encounter against NEUFC, the same venue where they downed JFC.

In terms of team news, CFC’s Hungarian tactician provided a positive update in his pre-match media briefing on the trio of Anirudh Thapa, defender Enes Sipovic and attacker Isma Goncalves; stating he expected their return to action much sooner than he had earlier expected. Laszlo hailed the work of the club’s medical staff in doing their utmost to keep the players fit and firing during what is a demanding schedule.

Chennaiyin were unbeaten against NEUFC last season enroute the ISL final, beating them 2-0 at home followed by a 2-2 draw in Guwahati with a much-changed lineup as qualification to the semis was sealed at that point. The home game saw Rafael Crivellaro score the goal of the season, beating NEUFC keeper Subhashish Roy Chowdhury from all of 55 yards out, close to the center circle.

Much like CFC, NorthEast are also a different outfit to last season, now under a young Head Coach in the form of Spaniard Gerard Nus. Commenting on the challenges his opponents pose, Laszlo said, “NorthEast have had a very good start. They are a stable team with good offensive options. And they are compact at the back, as we have seen. We must be prepared for them. At the same time, I believe in our team to the fullest. We have shown enough potential so far, now we must go out and get the results.”

It promises to be a riveting encounter between two tactically sound teams, as Chennaiyin chase the win that their performances have thoroughly deserved so far.

(Chennaiyin FC)