Chennaiyin set for stern test as Mumbai come calling
Two-time Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) champions, Chennaiyin FC will be eager to make amends for their loss away to FC Goa, when they cross swords with Mumbai City FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Sunday. The fixture will be both teams’ second outing in Hero ISL 2019-20, but the Islanders have already earned their first points of the season thanks to a last-gasp 1-0 win over Kerala Blasters on Thursday.
Chennaiyin will, however, be playing in front of their home fans for the first time this season and will take heart from the fact that they have a marginally better record over Mumbai.
John Gregory’s men were on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline in their last game. The defence, led by the experienced trio of Lucian Goian, Masih Saighani and Eli Sabia, looked uncertain against the pace and creativity of the Gaurs’ forward line. Chennai’s backline will need to address their defensive frailties quickly, given the personnel Mumbai possess in attack. The focus will be on Goian, who was in Mumbai’s books for the last two seasons.
Problems continue for Gregory in the final third as well, with Chennaiyin failing to hit the back of the net in more than 360 minutes of football in the Hero ISL. Andre Schembri, Lallianzuala Chhangte and Dragos Firtulescu all showed glimpses of promise but couldn’t produce the end product against Goa. To compound their problems, the Islanders look quite settled, especially in midfield and defence.
Despite playing away against Kerala Blasters in their first match of the season, Jorge Costa’s Mumbai looked razor sharp and more than ready for a successful Hero ISL campaign. New signing, Amine Chermiti scored on his Hero ISL debut, while both Mohamed Larbi and Rowllin Borges seemed comfortably settled in their new team. Modou Sougou, too, got some minutes under his belt and will undoubtedly be sharper for the second match.
Going into the fixture, one of Costa’s big concerns will be the availability of Mato Grgic and Paulo Machado. Both players were forced off around the 40th minute mark against the Blasters owing to injuries. Should they fail to make the team, however, the Islanders won’t be too perturbed considering the depth of their squad. Serge Kevyn, Sougou and Pratik Chaudhari had telling impacts after coming on in the last fixture and will be eager to do even better against Chennaiyin.
Chennaiyin FC: Vishal Kaith (GK), Lucian Goian, Eli Sabia, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Masih Saighani, Edwin Vanspaul, Dhanpal Ganesh, Anirudh Thapa, Dragos Firtulescu, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Andre Schembri
Mumbai City FC: Amrinder Singh (GK), Pratik Chaudhari, Subhasish Bose, Sauvik Chakrabarti, Sarthak Golui, Rowllin Borges, Raynier Fernandes, Serge Kevyn, Mohamed Larbi, Amine Chermiti, Modou Sougou
DID YOU KNOW?
- Chennaiyin won just five points at home last season – the worst record in Hero ISL history.
- Mumbai had the second-best away record last season.
- Chennaiyin have lost eight of their last 10 matches.
Will Chennaiyin be able to halt potent Mumbai attack?
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Catch the match live at 7:30 PM only on the Star Sports Network, Hotstar and Jio TV.