Chennai City FC kicks off its 2019-20 I-League sojourn with a contest against debutant TRAU FC in Coimbatore on Sunday.
The team has lost some of its key players owing to transfers in the form of Nestor Benitez, Edwin Sydney Vanspaul and Tarif Akhand who formed the core of the attack and defence. A successful title defence will be an uphill task as it looks to put a new combination on place.
Chennai City will be looking to Katsumi Yusa, its new recruit, to provide experience and quality. The side will also depend heavily on star striker Pedro Manzi, defender Roberto Eslava, midfielder Adolfo Miranda, and Sandro.
“We have been working hard for a pre-season of almost four months. We know we have a long way to go and we are a new team with young and many players without experience in Hero I-league. I believe this season is going to be even more difficult than the previous one,” Manzi said ahead of the first match.
In TRAU, Chennai City may find a tricky opponent. The team qualified for the league for the first time in only its second year of existence.
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The team is led by Nigerian forward Princewill Emeka Olariche, who was also the highest scorer in the Hero Second Division league with 10 goals. With him are some key players including the likes of 32-year-old Brazilian forward Marcel Sacramento, midfielder Abhinash Ruidas and Loken Meitei.
Speaking before the match, Olariche said: “Preparation so far has gone so well. We had a few pre-season friendlies from which we got mostly positive results and we are readily waiting for the season to commence. We have so much in store.”
The match begins at 7pm.