Table topper Chennai City FC takes on Neroca FC in a Hero I-League fixture at the Nehru stadium in Coimbatore on Saturday.
Coached by Singaporean Akbar Nawas, the Chennai outfit has been the most impressive side of the league by far, winning four out of its five games and and managing a draw in the other one.
It has impressed not only with results but also with its style of play. With the Spanish quartet of Pedro Manzi, Nestor Jesus, Sandro Rodriguez and Roberto Eslava impressing, the team has been able to play as an unit.
The contribution of the Spaniards is evident from the fact that striker Pedro and mid-fielders Nestor and Sandro have scored nine of the 13 goals scored by Chennai in the league, which is an astounding five goals ahead of second-best Gokulam FC.
Akbar was as level-headed as ever in pre-match comments saying, “We should not rest on our laurels by thinking about the run or looking at the table. We should keep our feet firmly on the ground and focus to compete against Neroca tomorrow which will be a tough game.”
Neroca’s Spanish coach Manuel Fraile, on the other hand, will be happy to find his side in the position they find itself in after four games. It could have been far worse than the five points and sixth position, given they have scored only three goals yet.
Two of those goals came in the last game against Real Kashmir up in Srinagar, a game which it did well to win given the conditions. Striker Nigerian Felix Chidi, also opened his account in the same game with a couple of strikes which should also warm coach Fraile’s heart.
“After the win against Real Kashmir, we are more confident and given the conditions, its ideal time to face the table-toppers- we are ready for that,” he said.
“Indian players need to step up as well as the foreigners. It's a test for everyone including me and we believe we can overcome if we play to our potential. Manzi, Nestor and Sandro have been extremely good for them so far and they are ruthless. Defenders have a tough job tomorrow but we also have our plan in place. Now we just need to keep our head down and execute.”
Playing in Coimbatore will be completely different conditions and Fraile’s side will have to quickly adapt to the humidity in particular.
The match kicks off at 5 pm.
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