I-League: Chennai City FC has the edge

Coach Akbar Nawas calls for referees to be fair and not get personal.

Getting ready: Chennai City FC go through their practice routine on Friday.   -  M. Periasamy

Table-topper Chennai City FC is expected to easily get past Shillong Lajong FC, which is languishing at the bottom of the table, in the I-League clash at the Nehru Stadium here on Saturday.

After playing brilliantly, for the most part, this season, Chennai City shockingly crashed to its first defeat at home against Real Kashmir last week.

Of course, a ‘dubious’ decision by the referee cost the team dear. It has hurt it so much that coach Akbar Nawas refused to talk at length about the upcoming match.

“I don’t want to talk about the game but we will play as how we have been doing all along whether there is a referee on the field or not. I hope the referees will be fair to us. We are not asking them to favour us. Be fair in your decisions and protect the players who want to play football. That’s all I am asking them to do,” he said.

He also urged the referees to not get personal. “Don’t get personal for anybody because football is an emotional game and the referees must learn to control it. What will happen to football in India if we don’t protect the players.”

READ| Selective telecast of I-League matches causes furore

Tough task

Shillong Lajong’s coach Alison Kharsyntiew said it’s going to be a tough task to beat a team like Chennai City. “It’s a very good side and has played some great football. It’s going to be very difficult for us to defeat them.”

But he has motivated his young players to go out there and put up a fight. “They have made mistakes on the field, particularly in defence, but it doesn’t matter. I only want them to learn from it. I hope they defend well and dish out a good performance,” he added.