I-League: Chennai City faces Real Kashmir in search of home win

After back-to-back draws against Minerva Punjab and Mohun Bagan, league leader Chennai City hosts I-League debutant Real Kashmir on Saturday.

Chennai City will look to I-League debutant Real Kashmir at bay to extends its lead at the top.   -  I-League

I-League leader Chennai City FC will look to get back to winning ways at home, when it takes on a buoyant Real Kashmir FC here on Saturday.

The clash gathers significance given Chennai’s lead has been cut to just three points after a couple of draws in its last two games. This was after they had won five of their first six matches.

The visitors from Kashmir, on the other hand, playing for the very first time in the top-flight league, has picked up three wins and scored 10 times in its last four games, including a creditable draw away against Gokulam in its last game.

And a win on Saturday could place the Kashmir second on the table, just one point behind Chennai.

Read: Amarjit powers Indian Arrows to 1-0 win against Gokulam Kerala

Chennai’s Singaporean coach Akbar Nawas has been well served by his five-man Spanish contingent which includes goalkeeper Santana, centre-back Roberto Eslava, two midfielders Sandro and Nestor and striker Pedro Manzi. Except the keeper, the other four have accounted for 12 of Chennai’s 16 goals so far.

“Real Kashmir is not a second division side who made its debut this season. They have the capability of winning the I-League. Real Kashmir should not be taken lightly. They have a good coach, good foreigners and they have showed some good performances. Real Kashmir is a competitive team,” Chennai coach Nawas said.


Real Kashmir, which won the second division last year, is in its debut I-League season.   -  Nissar Ahmad


Nawas has further bolstered his attack line with the recent addition of Slovakian striker Jozef Kaplan to the squad.

Kaplan has had a sterling record in the Singapore Premiere league for top club Geylang United and the coach’s likely familiarity with his game must have hastened the move, given Manzi turned in some indifferent performances in recent games after a bright start to the league.

Also Read: East Bengal surges to second spot after hard-fought win against Churchill Brothers

Kashmir’s Scottish coach David Robertson has also brought in foreign reinforcements along the way and with the latest addition of Ghanaian striker Abednego Kofi Tetteh to partner Ivorian Gnohere Krizo upfront, the team has begun to look formidable.

Speaking ahead of the clash he said, “We had pressure when we lost two home matches in front of our supporters. Now, after a few decent results, a few points in our scoreboard, pressure came down a bit.

“We have had a missing part. We used to create chances but were not being able to score goals. We need to work more at the attacking front.”

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