Chennaiyin FC will spar with Hyderabad FC in their first Indian Super League game of 2021 at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Monday evening. Currently in seventh place with 10 points and unbeaten in their last four outings, CFC will take positives from their fighting 0-0 draw against ATK Mohun Bagan last time out. Hyderabad FC on the other hand have lost their previous three games and are one place below Chennaiyin in 8th place with nine points.
CFC gaffer Csaba Laszlo handed out mixed team news in his pre-match press conference on Sunday. He confirmed that midfielder Rafael Crivellaro will miss the game against HFC, having been injured following an atrocious tackle by Pronay Halder in the ATKMB game. At the same time Laszlo also informed that Portuguese attacker Isma will be making a return and definitely be involved on Monday, having missed the last four games through injury.
The creative onus in skipper Rafael’s absence will fall on Chennaiyin’s talented Indian contingent, foremost being the likes of winger Lallianzuala Chhangte and midfielder Anirudh Thapa. Chhangte is a speedy threat, capable of operating on either wings, and his hope will be to add to the one goal and assist each he has managed so far this season. Thapa on the other hand has been running the show in midfield, partnering with the likes of Memo Moura and Deepak Tangri. Against a dynamic HFC side that also boasts emerging Indian talent, it will be interesting to see how Laszlo shuffles the pack following Rafael’s unavailability.
Chennaiyin FC can take inspiration from the 100% record they boast over Hyderabad FC so far. The first meeting between both sides last season in Chennai was one of the most dramatic ISL matches ever. The game sprung to life in second-half stoppage time, with Maltese forward Andre Schembri giving CFC the lead. HFC equalized with 95 minutes on the clock; however with virtually the last kick of the game, CFC regained the lead in dramatic fashion through Nerijus Valskis. In the reverse fixture in Hyderabad, Chennaiyin ran out 3-1 winners with Valskis and Rafael on the scoresheet.
A win over HFC could propel CFC up to fourth place with 13 points. And with the full league phase fixture schedule now out, Laszlo’s men will be hoping to garner as many points as possible, as games come thick and fast with no reprieve.