Indian Super League holders Chennaiyin FC concluded their four-week long pre-season camp in Malaysia today and will be heading back to India with Goa being their training base until September 22.
The Marina Machans will return to India later today and the next leg of their pre-season preparations will take place in Goa with two friendly matches lined up against Indian Arrows on September 21 and 22.
The two-time ISL champions will be returning to Chennai on the night of September 22 and will begin their title defence with an away match against Bengaluru FC on September 30.
“Pre-season has been fantastic for the boys and myself along with the entire coaching staff. The squad has worked really hard on their fitness, with all the new boys grasping things very quickly. It has also been a great learning curve for the boys from our B team who have travelled and train with the senior boys. The weather in Malaysia is the perfect precursor to what awaits us back home in India, with the boys raring to go for the new season,” said CFC Head Coach John Gregory.
CFC commenced their pre-season in Malaysia on August 13 at the Sime Darby Football Club training facility as their base. They played four pre-season friendlies, the first of which finished goalless against the Malaysia U-19s on August 29. Head Coach John Gregory gave a number of his new signings a run-out in what was a good first match workout for the squad.
The second friendly was against the Malaysian Indian Football Association (MIFA) on September 4 which was held following joint CSR activities of the clubs in two Tamil medium schools – Vivekananda Tamil School and Fletcher Tamil School. The match ended 1-1 in regulation time with striker Jeje Lalpekhlua getting on the scoresheet. The result was decided on penalties and CFC lost out 3-2 in the shootout.
Up next was Felda United on September 7, which saw a few players rested and a number of B team boys getting an opportunity. Trailing in the second half, it was Dutchman Gregory Nelson who equalized in stoppage time with a well-worked goal. CFC’s final pre-season game in Malaysia was on September 10 which was a hard-fought 2-1 defeat against Malaysian top tier outfit Terengganu FC. New signing Carlos Antonio Salom scored Chennaiyin’s goal from the spot.