Kozhikode, Jan 8 (IANS) Defending champions Chennai City FC will look to get their house in order when they take on Gokulam Kerala FC in an I-League encounter at the EMS Stadium here on Thursday.
Gokulam Kerala will be disappointed that they could not make the most of the one-man advantage against Aizawl FC in the last match, where for most of the second half they dominated every aspect of the play with a plethora of attacks.
Gokulam Kerala are currently fifth in the table with seven points from four matches. After going winless for the last two matches, it will be interesting to see how Gokulam can live up to the expectation before hosting the reigning champions who haven’t hit the gas pedal until now.
Their head coach Fernando Varela, reflected on the previous match and said: “Aizawl did a great defensive job, we tried anyway but their goalkeeper stood out throughout the game. These are things that happen in football and you have to accept them. The important thing is that we always maintained our competitive and offensive spirit trying to win with good football.”
He spoke about Chennai City and said: “Chennai is the current league champion. When you get a championship you deserve respect, we never look at the names of the players but the ability to generate good tactical quality and Chennai City surely have it.”
Chennai City FC, on the other hand, haven’t had much luck this season. Stricken with injuries and being marred by the loss of their marquee striker Pedro Manzi, the defending champions are faced with an uphill task.
Chennai have mustered five points from the first five games and a win seems to be a must to boost the morale of the team. Salvage for the team has come in the form of I-League veteran Katsumi Yusa and captain Roberto Eslava Suarez who have looked calm even in the face of adverse situations.
The team which conceded two first-half goals against Real Kashmir came out with a much improved display in the second half showing their true potential and will be hopeful of doing better from here on.
Commenting on the loss of Pedro Manzi, head coach Akbar Nawas said: “Our management is looking into it and we will make a decision in time to come if a replacement is needed.”
Speaking about the home team, he said: “They are really a good team and I am sure they seem to be one of the favourites this season. It will be a tough and competitive game for us.”