Chennaiyin FC will look to continue its strong start to the season as it takes on FC Goa in the Indian Super League (ISL) on Friday at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai.
The two-time champion began with a come-from-behind away win against ATK Mohun Bagan and then held Bengaluru FC to a thrilling 1-1 draw at home.
Speaking about his team’s performance so far, Chennaiyin coach Thomas Brdaric said, “The result of the last match [against Bengaluru] could have gone in all directions, but we took a point. Having four points from two games is not bad.”
“Goa has some strengths and we have professionally analysed them. It will be a good challenge.”
FC Goa, under its new manager Carlos Pena, has also begun strongly, after beating East Bengal away, through a late Edu Bedia goal.
The last time the Gaurs visited Chennai was in the first leg of the ISL 2020 semifinal when the Marina Machans pulled off a convincing 4-1 win in front of an excited Chennai crowd.
With fans coming back to ISL after two years, Brdaric expressed his excitement about playing in front of such passionate supporters.
“Last week [against Bengaluru] we got a taste and I liked it so much. Looking forward to the next one. As I have said earlier, the spark jumps both ways - stands to pitch. It is key the fans identify with the style with which we play,” he said.
On Friday, Chennaiyin will be without its regular goalkeeper Debjit Majumder, who received a red card in the previous game for a handball outside the penalty box.
“For me, it [Debjit conceding the red card] was a good decision as we would have had to settle for zero points if that goal went in. He took responsibility and sacrificed himself,” said Brdaric.
“Devansh Dabas will replace Debjit. I’m sure Devansh will play on a good level. I like his attitude. Tomorrow will be his chance to play.”
A decisive battle awaits in the midfield between Chennaiyin skipper Anirudh Thapa and Goa’s Spanish orchestrator Edu Bedia.
Thapa, who scored against the Gaurs in the 2020 semifinal, has been used in a more advanced role by Brdaric. Bedia, meanwhile, is still pulling the strings for Goa from deep and showed his influence with a deceptive late freekick to win the game against East Bengal. The match is set for a 7:30 pm kick-off.