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Match Preview : Chennaiyin FC in search of first win as in-form ATK visit

Chennai, October 29, 2019: It’s the battle of the two-time champions of the Hero Indian Super League as Chennaiyin FC and ATK cross swords at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Wednesday with kick off at 7:30 PM. After a loss and draw in their first two games, CFC will be desperate to get their first win of the campaign. ATK on the contrary come into this one after a 5-0 win over newcomers Hyderabad FC in their previous outing.

A 3-0 defeat away at FC Goa got CFC off to the worst possible start in their opener last week, however there were quite a few positives to pick from the 0-0 draw in their first home game against Mumbai City FC on Sunday. ATK on the other hand followed up their opening day 2-1 defeat at Kerala Blasters FC with a 5-0 thumping of Hyderabad FC at home.

Matches between both sides have seen quite a few goals over the years, with 19 goals apiece scored by both sides in 12 matches. The last time CFC got the better of ATK at home was in the 2017-18 season when a Jeje Lalpekhlua brace and an Inigo Calderon strike earned them a 3-2 win. 

Head Coach John Gregory will be hoping his side converts the chances they create upfront, with the likes of Andre Schembri, Rafael Crivellaro and Lallianzuala Chhangte all coming close on Sunday. That along with a repeat of the clean sheet would be the perfect combination, as Head Coach John Gregory elucidated in the pre-match press conference.

“We’re confident going into the ATK match; that clean sheet (against Mumbai City FC) was something we didn’t get very often last season. I hope that’s the first of many, many more to come. We are making progress. The players are getting used to each other, understanding each other. And I am looking forward to a positive result tomorrow night,” the Chennaiyin gaffer said.

In terms of team news, Gregory provided a positive update on Brazilian midfielder Rafael Crivellaro, who limped off against MCFC. “Rafa (Crivellaro) is fine after picking up a heavy challenge against MCFC. He was sore at the time, and we had the chance to make a change. But again Rafa has shown through his performances the ability and creativity he has got. He’s fit and ready to go. If I select him tomorrow, I am sure he’ll put in a stellar performance,” Germanpreet Singh is also available for selection after spending time away owing to personal reasons.

Gregory was also joined by goalkeeper Vishal Kaith, who has made a decent start to life at Chennaiyin FC, putting in a solid performance in the 0-0 draw against Mumbai after impressing with some good saves in the 3-0 defeat to Goa.

Interestingly, Vishal Kaith has been under the tutelage of ATK Head Coach Antonio Lopez Habas when the latter was at the helm at FC Pune City in 2016-17. 

“Antonio Habas is a very good coach. I have a lot of respect for him. I learned a lot from him during my time at Pune. Now we cross paths as opponents. My motivation will be to do well and focus on our game. We have to do our bit. We have improved from our opening game in Goa, did well defensively against Mumbai. We have to build on it,” the CFC custodian said.

Vishal and Co. will be up for the challenge, and so will be Habas’ men. The ATK Head Coach mentioned his side won’t be taking anything for granted despite CFC’s stuttering start to the new season. “(Chennaiyin are) Dangerous. I don’t know Chennaiyin now, but I remember them from the past. Chennaiyin is a strong opponent. I absolutely respect the opponent, the coach, the players and the fans of Chennaiyin. They haven’t scored a goal in their first two matches but against us, they might. It’s just a statistic which is not important for me. The 90 minutes are important. Two matches are never similar. With this mentality, we have to face Chennaiyin.,” Habas said during the pre-match press conference on Monday in Kolkata.

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