ISL: Rejuvenated Chennaiyin FC welcomes Bengaluru FC in crucial clash

Chennaiyin FC is flying high since the appointment of Owen Coyle. A win against Bengaluru FC at home will help in its playoff qualification.

Chennaiyin FC

Chennaiyin has picked up 16 points from a possible 24 to go fifth in the table   -  M. VEDHAN

Chennaiyin FC hosts Bengaluru FC in its last home game of this Indian Super League campaign with its playoff chances revived under Owen Coyle.

The Irishman has made a remarkable impact since replacing John Gregory. Taking over a club that had won just five points and was rock bottom, he has helped Chennaiyin pick up 16 points from a possible 24 to go fifth in the table, five points behind Mumbai City FC with two games in hand.

READ | ISL 2019-20: Points table, goals scored, goals difference  

While Chennaiyin still concedes goals at the same rate (1.67 per game under Gregory and 1.63 per game under Coyle), what has changed is its fortunes at the other end. After scoring just four goals from six games (0.24 goals per game) under Gregory this season, CFC has since scored 22 goals in eight games (2.75 goals per game).

These statistics aren’t lost on Bengaluru coach Carles Cuadrat. Speaking ahead of the game, he said, “Chennaiyin are in a positive mood as they are fighting for the top four too. 

“It’s clear that with the new coach, they have another kind of spirit in their game. He has been getting them to believe more in the creative process. They have become a team who score a lot of goals.”

Scoring first will be crucial for Chennaiyin. It hasn’t lost a match where it has taken the lead this season, winning six games and drawing three. Bengaluru FC, on the other hand, has lost all three game where the opposition had scored the opening goal.

“A lot of things are important in these kind of games. For example, who is the first team to score the goal? The three games that we have lost, it has been because when the other team scored first, they were comfortable. We will try to score first but we know it is not going to be easy.”

Coyle is expecting an exciting, tight game against the defending champion on Sunday. “We are respectful of the champions but do not fear them,” he said.

“They are a strong, physical team that defends well. We are aware of the threats they possess. To win the game, we have to play very well offensively but we do know that we have to do better defensively too.” 

Edwin Sydney Vanspaul, who has been playing in the midfield since the game against NorthEast United, could find a new partner in the middle of the park as Anirudh Thapa is suspended and Germanpreet Singh is carrying an injury.

Bengaluru, fresh from its win against Paro FC in the first leg of its AFC Cup Preliminary Stage 2 clash, will be without Raphael Augusto, Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Rino Anto, who continue their return from injury, while Harmanjot Khabra serves a suspension.

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