After being embarrassed by Indian Arrows in Hyderabad, Chennai City FC faces a tough task to get its I-League campaign back on track when it takes on Gokulam Kerala FC in an away match at the EMS Corporation stadium here on Monday.
For the first time in two decades, two teams from South India are figuring in the top division of Indian football and ironically, both teams find themselves on level-footing having suffered defeats in their opening encounters.
But the Chennai side must be smarting at the defeat suffered against young turks and wanting to set the record straight. Coach Soundararajan wants his team to forget the past and start afresh against Gokulam knowing pretty well that the Kerala side is also keen to impress on its home turf.
“No excuses we were outplayed in the first match but we are capable of playing much better than we did against Arrows. Gokulam is a pretty strong side and at home, they will have the backing of the big crowd. But we are quite confident of our abilities. We will be playing attacking soccer and will be aiming for a win,’’ the coach said on the eve of the encounter.
Though it fell short in all aspects against Indian Arrows, Chennai FC is a pretty good side captained by Michael Soosairaj. International D. Ravanan lends experience in the defence though these are early days in the league for Krgyzstani striker IIdar Amirov and Frenchman Jean-Michel Joachim. Coach Soundararajan expects them to come good against Kerala.
Gokulam FC struggled to come to terms with the cold climate and high altitude in Shillong and went down by a solitary goal against Lajong. At familiar climes at home, Gokulam FC will be a different proposition. Coach Bino George and captain Susanth Mathew have stressed the importance of playing attacking soccer and the team has the wherewithal to do it.
Coach Bino George has told his players not to worry about the expectations of the fans and has demanded full effort from them. “We are not looking too much into the defeat in the opening match. We struggled in the cold and altitude but it is past and we will take positives from that defeat. We are focused to do well against Chennai FC. The fans will be there in good numbers and we don’t want to disappoint them. We will play for a win. The boys are also pretty confident and raring to go,” said Bino.
With teams drawing the battle lines, an intriguing contest is on the cards at the Corporation stadium, which will be hosting an I-League match after a gap of seven years.