Star striker and India’s leading goal scorer Sunil Chhetri is all set to make his ISL debut for Mumbai City FC against Chennaiyin FC at the D.Y. Patil Stadium on Friday. The 31-year-old was bought for Rs. 1.2 crore at the first auction last July. Spanish assistant coach of the home team Oscar Bruzon is looking forward to Chhetri playing his part and sounded optimistic of posting their first win of the campaign.
Chennaiyin FC, which beat the Mumbai side 5-1 and 3-0 last year, start as firm favourites though. The Marco Materazzi coached side lost the first two games (2-3 to Atletico de Kolkata and 0-1 Delhi Dynamos), but spearheaded by Colombian Mendoza Valencia’s hat trick, Chennaiyin thrashed FC Goa 4-0 in the away game at Fatorda.
The Nicolas Anelka coached local side was drubbed 1-3 by FC Pune City, but it shared points with Kerala Blasters at Kochi and now hopes to steal thunder in the first of the five straight home matches. “This is the start of everything; we will be happy to introduce the three Indian national players — Chettri, Subrata Paul and Lalachhuanmawia Fanai — who were not available for the first two games.
“I think everything was gelling in the first two games, but we did not get the six points we wanted. Now is the time to start afresh in Mumbai. We have five games in a row here. We are completely excited to play here. We want to show tomorrow what this Mumbai City FC is capable of,” said a confident looking Bruzon at a press conference on Thursday.
The home team will be without medio Andre Moritz, who has left the squad owing to personal reasons, but Brunzo did not seem to be perturbed by the departure. “We have 25 players in the squad and have injury issues, but nothing is big enough. We are focusing on the resources in the form of players who are available. There are minor injuries sustained in the form of muscle strains and niggles while training at the Cooperage ground.”
Mumbai City FC will spend the next fortnight at home and during this time, it aims to climb from the lower half of the points table. “There has been many positive from the first two matches, we think we have made enough progress on the technical side. The tournament is a short league, tough calendar and very demanding. But we hope to change tendency of losing from tomorrow. We were getting close to the final set up and positions are still open,” said Brunzo.
Fielding questions in Italian, Chennaiyin FC’s head coach Marco Materazzi felt that nothing should be seen in his team’s easy wins against Mumbai City FC last year: “Last year’s competition was different. We are now in the phase of four away games; so it’s tough. We hope this phase will bring us victories. When we win I am always happy; that’s what we work for. We have to win tomorrow’s game to gain in confidence.”