I-League: Chennai City hosts East Bengal in final home game

Chennai City has had a rollercoaster of a ride this season, particularly at home, but the team has shown fight against some of the bigger teams, most notably against Bengaluru on Wednesday when it held on to a 1-1 draw.

Chennai City players during a training session on the eve of its I-League match against East Bengal at Nehru Stadium in Chennai on March 11, 2017.   -  R. Ragu

 

Chennai City FC rounds of its home fixtures as it hosts East Bengal in a David v Goliath encounter. The Kolkata giant is coming into this game on the back of a heart-wrenching defeat at home to Churchill Brothers, and the team will need nothing less than a win to keep afloat the title challenge.

“It is important to get three points to remain in the race to win the I-League. If things go our away today (other fixtures) and we win tomorrow, we could be on top of the table. But, if Aizawl wins, then we have to win to stay with them,” averred coach Trevor Morgan.

Dogged resistance

Chennai City has had a rollercoaster of a ride this season, particularly at home, but the team has shown fight against some of the bigger teams, most notably against Bengaluru on Wednesday when it held on to a 1-1 draw.

The East Bengal gaffer is aware of his opposition’s stubbornness: “We are expecting nothing less than very difficult game. Any team is capable of any other team on a given day. We found that to our cost in the last game. We are aware of how they (Chennai City) will line up, in their 4-4-1-1 formation so we will have to do out best to break them down,” said Morgan.

“I’ve had a look at the pitch, it doesn’t look as bad as I expected it to be. But professional footballers are required to adapt to different situation, so the pitch can’t be an excuse for us,” he added.

Final home game

For Chennai City FC, it will be a swansong in front of its home fans for the season. Coach V. Soundararajan is eager to face yet another tough opponent.

“Just like Bengaluru FC, East Bengal is one of the best teams in the country and I cannot wait to face them. As you can see through their position in the table, they are one of the most organised teams in the league. But we will still go for a win.

“This season has been quite an experience for the players. They have had the emotional support of their families who have come out to watch them play in the stadium,” he said.

Amiri aftermath

Chennai City on Thursday parted ways with Haroon Amiri after the striker refused to warm up prior to the game against Bengaluru FC as he learnt he wasn’t in the starting XI.

Chennai City team manager Ingulab Ragunathan justified the sacking of the player. “The management decided that we should part ways with the player due to his indiscipline. We felt we didn’t need a player who wouldn’t listen to the coach.”

On allegations made by the player on Twitter that he did not refuse to play, Ragunathan said: “That is false. We have video evidence on our club website that clearly shows Amiri talking to Bengaluru FC staff in the dugout not taking part in the warm up after he learnt that he was on the bench. Anyway, this is in the past and we are now focused on tomorrow’s game.”