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Chennaiyin FC take on Odisha FC in search of first Bambolim win

Chennaiyin FC forward Isma Goncalves in training. (Photo courtesy: Chennaiyin FC)
Chennaiyin FC forward Isma Goncalves in training. (Photo courtesy: Chennaiyin FC)

Eighth-placed Chennaiyin FC host bottom side Odisha FC at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim in the early kick-off on Sunday evening in the Indian Super League.

Having drawn two and lost three games at the venue, CFC will be hoping for a change in fortune against Stuart Baxter’s men. Chennaiyin have a point to prove after the 4-1 humbling at the hands of Hyderabad FC one week prior. Furthermore, Csaba Laszlo & co. need to cope with the absence of captain Rafael Crivellaro, as the Brazilian playmaker has been ruled out for the rest of the season.

In a statement by the club on Saturday afternoon, it was announced that the injury sustained by Crivellaro from Pronay Halder’s tackle in the game against ATK Mohun Bagan on December 29, 2020 was ligamentous in nature to the CFC No. 10’s left ankle, meaning he will be ruled out for at least two months. The statement also mentioned the club is working on signing a replacement player.

In terms of other team news, Laszlo did not report any further injuries or omissions. He will be hoping his strike force of Isma Goncalves and Jakub Sylvestr begins firing, with the Indian contingent expected to step up as games come thick and fast. In a unique situation, CFC play OFC three days later again in the reverse fixture.

Odisha will be buoyed coming into this one, after registering their first win of the season following a 4-2 thumping of Kerala Blasters on January 7. OFC’s Brazilian striker Diego Mauricio was on target twice that night, and he will be a threat that his compatriot Eli Sabia along with Bosnian Enes Sipovic will want to keep quiet on Sunday.

In Crivellaro’s absence, it will be vital to see how Laszlo lines up his midfield and adapts to Odisha’s challenge. A key performer will be Indian international Anirudh Thapa, who could reach a momentous milestone in the upcoming game. If he features against Odisha, Thapa will make his 77th appearance in all competitions for Chennaiyin, taking him past Jeje Lalpekhlua (76) as the club’s highest appearance-maker. In that case, Thapa will be hoping to cap the occasion off with a memorable display and positive result.

(Chennaiyin FC)