ISL: NorthEast United lock horns with Chennaiyin FC
Chennai: Up against NorthEast United FC, the tournament's most popular team, hosts Chennaiyin FC would look to take advantage of playing in familiar territory when the two sides lock horns in the Indian Super League football tournament here Saturday.
Second-placed Chennaiyin FC are coming off a 1-1 draw with table toppers Atletico de Kolkata, while the Northeast franchise, positioned fourth in the standings, had suffered a reverse at the hands of FC Pune City in their last match.
Both sides would be keen to register a win at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
As far as points earned are concerned, NorthEast United FC, at eight, are just two behind the home team.
While Spain's Sergio Contreras Pardo, commonly known as Koke, is expected to be a threat upfront alongside James Keene and Indian Durga Boro, NorthEast's defense will be spearheaded by another Spaniard World Cupper Joan Capdevila, who will be supported by Miguel Garcia and Jibon Singh.
Koke has the knack of finding open areas in the opposition half.
The home side will be led by star forward Elano Blumer, the tournament's highest scorer with six goals, and World Cup winner Marco Materazzi, who is also the team's marquee manager cum player.
There will also be in the ranks Colombian import Djemba-Djemba, besides defender Bernard Mendy, both of whom have been pretty consistent.
Mikael Silvestre and Materazi, if he decides to play, will be complemented by experienced India defender Gouramangi Singh. The midfield will be manned by Djordjic and Critian Hidalgo.
“They (NorthEast United FC) are a very talented side but our coaches have done the homework, so we would look to be at our best and get the three points tomorrow,” Chennaiyin FC defender Gouramangi said.
Chennaiyin's assistant coach Vivek Nagul said, “The mood is very positive as we came back well to earn a point against Atletico Kolkata. Now we are aiming for maximum points at home tomorrow.”
On facing the Northeast side, he said, “They are a fast and youthful side. But we have done our preparations and would look to implement it.”