Chennai, October 27, 2019: Hero Indian Super League 2015 and 2017-18 champions Chennaiyin FC return to the Marina Arena here on Sunday for their first home game of the season against an upbeat Mumbai City FC side. Chennaiyin suffered a harsh 3-0 defeat away to FC Goa in the opener four days back, while Mumbai nicked a 1-0 win at Kerala Blasters FC in their opening tie.
In terms of team news, both coaches confirmed the absence of a few players in their pre-match notes. Chennaiyin will be without Jeje Lalpekhlua who continues his recovery from injury while Germanpreet Singh will be unavailable due to personal reasons. As for Mumbai City, defender Mato Grgic will be ruled out while midfielder Paulo Machado is a doubt after picking up injuries in Kerala.
“We have the nucleus of a very good side. The best way for us to make an impression on our home fans is a win in our first home game. We are ready,” said Head Coach John Gregory while speaking to the media on Saturday.
Gregory was joined by Romanian attacking midfielder Dragos Firtulescu, who was full of confidence despite the opening day defeat to Goa. “My only battle is with myself. I believe in karma, especially in football. If I am true to my potential, I can be one of the best players in the ISL with my team Chennaiyin,” Dragos said with surety.
Mumbai City are confident themselves after an opening day victory away to Kerala Blasters. Head Coach Jorge Costa paid respect to CFC in his remarks while explaining the importance of focusing on their own game. “We played against Chennaiyin in pre-season. I watched their game in Goa as well. That is why I think they will give a difficult game for us. The most important thing is to focus on what we can do,” Costa said.
This will be the sixth encounter between both sides in Chennai in the ISL, with CFC having won three while having lost and drawn one apiece. An interesting sub-plot awaits as Chennaiyin skipper Lucian Goian is set to come up against his former side, having spent three seasons with MCFC previously. He will be pumped to do well against his former employers.
Along with Lucian, a number of other CFC players are set for home debut including custodian Vishal Kaith who impressed against Goa with five brilliant saves. Gregory was full of praise for the Himachal Pradesh goalkeeper, saying, ““I thought Vishal played very well the other night. He had to make a couple of very good saves, and generally, for his debut, he can be really pleased with the way he played the other night. He’s another one who is going to be playing at the Marina for the very first time on Sunday. So, I hope for him and the team that we get a victory, and also, he keeps a clean sheet. I thought his performance went slightly unnoticed the other night.”
Gregory and the troops will be hoping to give the fans a Diwali present on Sunday as football returns to the city for the first time in more than six months. The occasion promises to be even more special, with Vijay and Nayanthara-starrer Bigil’s trailer set to be played before the match. The film’s producer Archana Kalpathi along with select stars from the film are set to be in attendance.