I-League: Chennai begin final push for title against Neroca
Imphal, Feb 10: Chennai City FC that have had a fairly impeccable season so far, winning 10 out of 15 games and losing only twice to debutant Real Kashmir FC, take on Neroca FC in a return leg fixture on Monday, which will begin their final push towards maiden I-League triumph in their four-year history.
The game slated for a 2 PM IST kick-off at the Khuman Lampak stadium.
The visitors are almost home, sitting atop the table with 33 points, but can ill-afford to drop their guard, given the competitive nature of the league.
Neroca that fell away a bit in their campaign in recent times, losing three of the last four games, are placed fifth with 25 points from 16 games and are still figure with three other teams with a realistic shot at the coveted Hero I-League crown.
Their Spanish coach Manuel Fraile exhibited the required confidence on match-day eve. "We will be playing tomorrow against Chennai not for the first position but for the best position. We will be playing at home and that is important and we will go all out and try to take the three points," Fraile said.
"It's an important match. I think Chencho will score again against Chennai City. If tomorrow Chennai make mistakes and we are in a good momentum and play our style, we might win although it's hard to play against Chennai."
The coach was referring to ‘Bhutanese Ronaldo' Chencho Gyeltshen, who recently joined the Neroca ranks on loan and scored in his first game for his new side, albeit in a losing cause against Quess East Bengal in the previous game.
Chennai City FC have had so much riding on their ‘Spanish Penta', which includes the keeper Santana, this season and they have almost always delivered. They have scored 27 of their 33 goals so far. Even in the last game against the Indian Arrows, Sandro Rodriguez' impeccable free-kick helped break the deadlock in the second half.
Akbar Nawas, their Singaporean coach, who has remained grounded throughout the league, seemed to acknowledge short-comings in their previous game when he said in the pre-game presser, "We hope for a much better and improved performance against Neroca. It's going to be a competitive match. We all know how Neroca can cause damage with their strikers. Neroca is known for pace in their attack and counters too, so we have to be prepared for this."