Coimbatore, Dec 21 (IANS) I-League leaders Chennai City FC will look to get back to winning ways at home when they take on a buoyant Real Kashmir FC here on Saturday.
The clash gathers significance given Chennai’s lead has been cut to just three points after a couple of draws. This was after they had won five of their first six matches.
The visitors from Kashmir on the other hand, playing for the very first time in the top-flight league, have picked up three wins and scored 10 times in their last four games, including a creditable draw away to Gokulam in their last game and a win on Saturday, could place them second on the table, just one point behind Chennai.
Chennai’s Singaporean coach Akbar Nawas has been well served by his five-man Spanish contingent — goalkeeper Santana, centre-back Roberto Eslava, two midfielders Sandro and Nestor and striker Pedro Manzi. Except the keeper, the other four have accounted for 12 of Chennai’s 16 goals so far.
He said: “Real Kashmir is not a second division side who had debuted this season. They have the capability of winning the I-League. Real Kashmir should not be taken lightly. They have a good coach, good foreigners and they have showed some good performances. Real Kashmir is a competitive team after all.”
Akbar has further bolstered his attack line with the recent addition of Slovakian striker Jozef Kaplan to the squad. He has had a sterling record in the Singapore Premiere league for top club Geylang United and the coach’s likely familiarity with his game must have hastened the move, given Manzi turned in some indifferent performances in recent games, after a bright start to the league.
Kashmir’s Scottish coach David Robertson has also brought in foreign reinforcements along the way and with the latest addition of Ghanaian striker Abednego Kofi Tetteh to partner Ivorian Gnohere Krizo upfront, the team has begun to look formidable.
Ahead of the clash, he said: “We had pressure when we lost two home matches in front of our supporters. Now, after a few decent results, a few points in our scoreboard, pressure has come down a bit. We have had a missing part. We used to create chances but were not being able to score goals. We need to work more at the attacking front.”
One would still feel that Chennai’s Spanish midfield duo of Nestor Jesus and Sandro Rodriguez hold the key to the final match outcome. The pair has been outstanding in their contributions so far and if Nestor in particular can change the game from the left of midfield, Kashmir will have a tough time.