Chennaiyin FC (CFC) will aim to build momentum when it takes on Mumbai City FC (MCFC) here at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in the Indian Super League on Saturday.
Chennaiyin has travelled well so far with two wins in two but hasn’t registered a win at home thus far. CFC drew against Bengaluru FC and lost to FC Goa despite playing well.
Thomas Bradaric will be without centre-back Vafa Hakhamaneshi (suspended) and striker Kwame Karikari (injury). The CFC coach confirmed that midfielder Julius Duker will deputise in central defence, while Aakash Sangwan will start in place of left-back Narayan Das.
It won’t be an easy task against Mumbai City, which is the strongest team on paper in the league. Mumbai played out a thrilling 2-2 draw at home to ATK Mohun Bagan. Mumbai is spoiled for choices in attacking roles with Greg Stewart, Jorge Pereyra Diaz, Alberto Noguera and Bipin Singh capable of conjuring goals out of nothing. Then there is Chennai’s old boy Lallianzuala Chhangte, who has nine goals in all competitions, having the best scoring run of his career.
Des Buckingham’s attacking arsenal also allows him the flexibility of switching between different formations during matches.
“They [MCFC) want to go for the championship. We have to understand how to play against them, we need to learn to switch off their quality and don’t give them space. They want to play with the ball. We have analysed them and we will try our best,” said the German.
Championship-chasing Mumbai is, however, seven points off the top of Hyderabad FC, which has played a game more. Coach Buckingham is not worried about the lost points early in the campaign. “With five games in, we have scored more goals [until Thursday] than any other team in the league. We have two wins after five games, so we have defensively been a bit short. As long as we continue to get better in each game, the points will come,” he said.
With the monsoon setting in the city, Chennaiyin decided to stay back in Kolkata after the win over East Bengal to train in favourable conditions.