Chennaiyin FC head coach Thomas Brdaric expects a tough battle against their southern rivals Bengaluru FC as both teams look to boost their playoff hopes ahead of their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) clash at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Saturday.

Bengaluru FC had a slow start to the season, but they are peaking at the right time. They have won their last three matches convincingly and are currently placed at the seventh position in the Hero ISL table with 19 points. Chennaiyin FC, who have a game in hand, trail the Blues by two points. In addition to that, BFC are going to play four out five remaining games at home, which will serve as a major boost for Simon Grayson's men. Brdaric was aware of this situation and wanted his players to concentrate fully in the game and execute what they have planned.

"It will be a hard battle, an away match. They had good results in the last weeks. They struggled (early) in the season, they also have very pretty good players, experienced coaches and they want to also reach targets. They are closer to the playoffs but have played one match extra and We are now in a situation where we want to face them and to make a difference. We show the players our match plan and then it's up to us how we can implement it," Brdaric said in the pre-match press conference.

"In 90 minutes plus, we have to show a very good concentration, a good pressing, not let them in the last zone to shoot and to cross. We have to try to block some simple balls in deep zones, because they have strengths, they are fast, they can create one-on-one situations and that's why we have to be very attentive and don't lose balls, in some tight, narrow situations. They have some strengths and we have to deny them like in the last games. We have to reduce mistakes in a row and that could be a good result for us," he added.

CFC have strugged to maintain consistency this campaign, winning six games alongside one draw and eigth defeats. Having played well against the league toppers Mumbai City FC and second-placed Hyderabad FC, they failed to get the three points. The CFC head coach believes they are in a good position and going in the direction they want.

"We are going in the right direction, increasing our level. We have a better understanding of how to approach our opponents, and how we want to play. Players are getting more assured of the execution and how we analyse our last matches. There are a lot of positive things and we have to keep going and to believe till the end. The game is 90 minutes plus and till the last whistle we have to be very concentrated and to explore our opportunities and of course, the aim is to be in the playoffs," he said.

One notable miss in the last four matches for the Marina Machans has been the absence of creative midfielder Abdenasser El Khayati. The Dutch-Morrocan player has played only seven games so far for CFC, but has seven goals and four assists to his name already. CFC will be hoping to have him back as soon as possible as they chase for a playoff spot. Brdaric offered an update on El Khayati and Rahim Ali's availability for the upcoming game.

"I'm very happy that Nasser (El Khayati) is pain free and Rahim Ali is also there so we have some opportunities. But we don't know how far he will play in Saturday's match. We have sessions on Friday and then we will decide if it's smart to take him in the squad or not. We can't go at the risk because till now he didn't have a one strong training session with the team. But I am confident that he'll be soon in this squad and Ali is also without pain and I'm also happy that he bounced back in the team," he added.

Ajith Kumar has been Brdaric's preferred player at right-back in this season. The local player has started all the games for CFC except one, which has been due to suspension. He has the highest number of interceptions and successful tackles in the team. Kumar seems to be improving with every game and Brdaric appreciated the commitment shown by the defender and assured to help him in future.

"I knew him (Kumar) before he came here. I appreciate his commitments and he is a very humble guy. Sometimes, too kind. We worked in the last weeks and months on his mindset and his structure. He is more valuable for the team. He's a big potential player. He's a local guy, he's from this area and we can be proud to have him in our team. He knows where he has to work on, to be better and he wants to improve all the time. I'm here to help him," he commented.

Need to concentrate more on the attacking zone: Ajith Kumar

Brdaric was accompanied by Kumar in the pre-match press conference.

Chennaiyin FC got the clean sheet in the previous match against ATK Mohun Bagan, only the second one this season. Meanwhile, Chennaiyin FC, whoi have been one of the high scoring teams this season, have struggled to find the back of the net off late. They have scored only one goal in the last two matches. Kumar believes that they have to convert their chances and convert the draws into wins.

"We have to concentrate more on the attacking zone. We didn't utilise our chances in the last few games so if we convert those chances then it would be a positive result for us. Personally, I want to give my best in the upcoming matches and hopefully I will give much better performances for the team," he concluded.