Football

ISL: Chennaiyin FC, Bengaluru FC eye full points in crucial clash

Chennaiyin FC players during a practice session in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2019-20 football match at SRMC Ground in Chennai on Saturday.

Chennaiyin FC players during a practice session in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2019-20 football match at SRMC Ground in Chennai on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: M. Vedhan

Bengaluru FC is close to sealing a semi-final spot, but can’t afford to slip up.

Chennaiyin FC will look to continue to its four-match winning streak and close in on a play-offs spot when it takes on defending champion Bengaluru FC in an Indian Super League (ISL) match here on Sunday.

With 15 goals in their last four matches, Chennaiyin are on a roll and forward Nerijus Valskis (12) who tops the goal-scoring charts will be the man to watch out for.

After a lacklustre start to the 2019-2020 season which saw head coach John Gregory exit, the two-time champion has turned things around well under Owen Coyle.

CFC, however, runs into a tough customer in Bengaluru FC which has the talismanic Sunil Chhetri in its ranks. The visiting team hasn’t been in dominant form of late but will look to pull off a win to seal their play-off berth.

For Chennaiyin, Valskis, Rafael Crivallero and Maltese Andre Schembri have been in good form in recent games and will need to continue in the same vein for the team to earn three points.

The host will miss the services of Anirudh Thapa, who is suspended.

Bengaluru FC is close to sealing a semi-final spot, but can’t afford to slip up, as they attempt to chase down the elusive top spot.

At the pre-match press conference, the team’s head coach Carles Cuadrat said Chennaiyin FC is in good form and also fighting for a top four spot and emphasised the need to go for three points.

“For sure, Chennaiyin are in a positive mood. They are fighting for the top four also. For them, it is also an important game. But our work is to also fight for our objectives. We will really go for the three points. We can expect a really exciting game because when you see two teams going for the victory, it’s nice,” he said.

Stressing the importance of the first goal in the contest, Cuadrat said, “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 was because when the other team scored first, they were comfortable. We will try to be the first team to score. But we know it is not going to be easy.”

Apart from Chhetri, custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu will be a key player for BFC as he would need to keep the Chennaiyin forwards at bay.

Match starts at 7.30 p.m. on Feb 09.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 1:15:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/isl-chennaiyin-fc-bengaluru-fc-eye-full-points-in-crucial-clash/article30769391.ece

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