Chennai City hosts Indian Arrows in I-League opener

The Indian Arrows and Chennai City have faced each other twice in a brief I-League history last season and the young Arrows side have remain undefeated so far.

Indian Arrows and Chennai City FC coaches Floy Pinto and Akbar Nawaz exchange pleasantries before the I-League opener.   -  AIFF Media

The 2018-19 season of the I-League gets underway on Friday with home side Chennai City FC coming up against the AIFF's development side Indian Arrows at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Coimbatore.

The Indian Arrows and Chennai City have faced each other twice in a brief history last season and the young Arrows side have remain undefeated so far. In November last year, the Arrows stunned Chennai City 3-0 in New Delhi and secured a draw in the reverse leg in January this year.

Managed by Flyod Pinto these days, the Amarjeet Singh Kiyam-led side would certainly be looking for similar positive results against its host on Friday.

Read: I-League 2018-19 - The title race begins

Chennai City made its I-League debut in the tenth edition of the competition in 2016. In both the seasons since its introduction, its performances haven't been much to write home about. However, with a new coach in Singaporean Akbar Nawaz at the helm this season and with some strong foreign signings, they will certainly look for a top table finish.

Captain Regin Michael, who will lead the side from the central midfieldcommented on the opponent in a pre-match chat, saying, “I think they are a tough side. Most of them have played for the junior India national teams and their fitness levels are too good because they are youngsters. So we will try and find their weakness and try to attack.”

The captain marked out Kabir, Vijay and Pravitto as players to watch out for from Chennai City.

The coach Akbar, however, sounded a word of caution saying, “We played two pre-season games and as such it is not sufficient to enter a league with only two training games. But it is what it is on that notion. As for the team, we have much to improve and it takes time to play the way we want to play so lets see what happens on Friday."

Arrows not dwelling on history

On the other hand, the Indian Arrows, made its first appearance in the I-League last season. The team is made up of the stars who featured at the FIFA U-17 World Cup hosted by India last year. The I-League was an opportunity to test the youngsters against senior professionals at the highest level and get crucial minutes under their belts, and how they have sailed through with flying colours, notching up as many as four wins in a memorable debut campaign.

Players like Amarjeet, Abhijit Sarkar and the goalkeeper Prabhsukan Gill would be looking to impress national coach Stephen Constantine’s scouts as India builds up to the AFC Asian Cup campaign.

The team’s talisman Jeakson Singh, who is the only Indian to score in a FIFA Word Cup, did not want to dwelve on the past when reminded of the Arrows' record against Chennai but oozed confidence saying, “The past is the past and it is gone. This is a new team for them and they are a strong team, but we are only going there to win and that is our only focus.”

Coach Pinto, who has given a good account of himself after taking over from Portuguese Luis Norton de Matos, said, “It is obviously good to remember that we never lost to Chennai City last season but the flip side is that the team is different now and it will be interesting to see how they fare with new players and a new attack. We are also not shying away and will go every extra mile needed to better ourselves.”