First win is always essential to truly kick start a season, and Punjab FC will be keen to bag their inaugural victory of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 campaign against Chennaiyin FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium on October 29, Sunday.

The Marina Machans will derive significant confidence from edging past Hyderabad FC by 1-0 away from home to open their account for the season. Punjab, on the other hand, played out a goalless draw with Jamshedpur FC. Staikos Vergetis and his men have put up quite a formidable display so far, but a celebrated victory has eluded them till now.

Regardless of the previous results, a victory here is utmost essential for both these sides to fuel their forthcoming run in the season.

What’s at stake?

Chennaiyin FC

Owen Coyle must have signed a breath of relief post his win in the last match and it is important for the Scottish tactician to build up on that success. Their home fans will be expecting a strong response after the 3-1 defeat they faced against Mohun Bagan Super Giant in their home turf earlier this month.

Punjab FC

The ISL debutants need to transform their potential into performances. So far, they have been impressive moving forward and fairly sturdy in the back.

However, creativity and dynamism has been missing in the final third, putting a lot of the goal-scoring responsibilities on Luka Majcen. The team will need to get into more goal scoring positions to add to the goal scoring tally.

Key Players

Ankit Mukerjee (Chennaiyin FC)

With nine interceptions, five clearances, and three tackles in four appearances, Ankit Mukherjee has been efficient on the defensive front.

However, he showed another layer to his game by assisting Connor Shields’ goal against Hyderabad FC. His crosses and deliveries into the box from the right flank help create more chances for the Chennaiyin frontline.

Amarjit Singh Kiyam (Punjab FC)

Amarjit Singh Kiyam has recorded five interceptions and an 87% passing accuracy across two games until now. He is the key interlinking the defensive unit to Punjab’s attack, and some creative inputs from him can certainly help them take care of their goal-scoring needs.

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This will be the first fixture between the two teams in the ISL.

Trivia: Chennaiyin FC’s Cristian Battocchio has a passing accuracy of 88.3% in the opposition half, the highest of any player in the current ISL season.

Team Talk

“There is a great difference between the two divisions. In the ISL, there is a lot of transition game. Many times an opponent that is defending reaches very quickly to the opponent area. This transition game is much faster than it was in the I-League. Our team tries to adapt to this situation in a good level. We have difficulties in some games, especially in the first-half, but we are going well in the second half,” Punjab FC head coach said about the difference of quality of play that he is noticing between the ISL and the I-League.

“If we get a win tomorrow, we will go to the top half of the table. With all due respect, people get caught up in numbers but the table counts for zero at this stage of the season. When the table counts, I know, because I am a shield winner at Jamshedpur. The game is important for both clubs absolutely, but there are so many games to go after that,” Chennaiyin FC head coach Owen Coyle spoke about their standing in the league table currently.

Where to Watch

Viacom18 is the new home of Indian football and the match between Chennaiyin FC and Punjab FC will kick off at 8 PM on October 29, 2023. Fans across the country can catch the action in English, Hindi, Bengali, and Malayalam. Fans can watch the action on linear channels like Sports18 Khel (Hindi), Sports18 1 SD & HD (English), VH1 SD & HD (English), Surya Movies (Malayalam), DD Bangla & Colors Bangla Cinema (Bengali). In addition to this, as part of FSDL’s partnership with OneFootball, ISL live streams and highlights of all matches of the upcoming 2023-24 season will be delivered across more than 190 countries.

ISL Fantasy

Top picks and players to watch out for

Connor Shields (7.1cr)

The striker finally got off the goal-scoring mark in the ISL with a strike in the last game

Ankit Mukherjee (3.9cr)

Assisted Shields’ goal and has a chance of bagging many of more those playing in an advanced role in this campaign

Melroy Melwin Assisi (4.4cr)

Impressive defensive output coupled with a constant goal-scoring threat from set pieces

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