Kolkata, February 16, 2020: Chennaiyin FC play the first of their three remaining Indian Super League games on the road when they take on ATK FC at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Sunday. It is an encounter between two in-form teams with CFC taking 13 points from their last 15 with ATK notching 12 points. The two-time champions of the ISL have their respective aspirations for chasing all three points – Chennaiyin aiming to bridge the gap to fourth place while ATK hoping to match FC Goa’s points tally at the top in search of the AFC Champions League spot.
In terms of team news, Chennaiyin will be without Thoi Singh who was contentiously sent off in the previous match against Bengaluru FC but are boosted by the return of star Indian midfielder Anirudh Thapa, who is on the cusp of his 50th ISL appearance if he takes to the field against ATK. Having missed the previous match against BFC through suspension, CFC missed Thapa’s agility and passing in the middle with Head Coach Owen Coyle having to adjust his personnel in what was an intense encounter.
Chennaiyin will also be looking to exact revenge for the narrow 1-0 defeat in the reverse fixture in Chennai after dominating the entire game but failing to find the target. Though Fiji striker Roy Krishna didn’t net that night, he leads the ISL goalscoring charts with 13 goals, including a hat-trick scored in the previous encounter against Odisha FC. CFC striker Nerijus Valskis who is on 12 goals himself will also be motivated to go one better of his positional counterpart when both teams take to the pitch on Sunday.
Valskis & Co. have found their feet under Head Coach Owen Coyle who took over in December, with CFC unbeaten in the last five games and scoring 15 goals in the process. Despite being held to a goalless draw by BFC at home last week, CFC’s hopes for a top four finish are still very much on track with their destiny in their own hands.
Currently on 22 points after 15 games played, CFC play ATK followed by Mumbai City FC and NorthEast United FC on the road to conclude their league stage campaign. And the game against MCFC on February 21 will be a potential six-pointer as it will be their last league game with the Islanders currently on 26 points and in fourth place. Odisha FC, who are in fifth currently with 24 points and one game left to play also have an outside chance with other results having to go in their favour.
CFC will also be hoping to improve their head-to-head record against ATK, with the latter boasting six wins to the visitors’ three; the rest being draws. Chennaiyin’s last win in Kolkata came in their 2017-18 title-winning campaign when goals from Mailson Alves and Jeje Lalpekhlua handed them a narrow 2-1 win.