Mumbai City in must-win situation
Game in hand puts Chennaiyin at an advantage
The one match in hand for Chennaiyin FC, before its ISL season six campaign comes to a close, may calm nerves in the visitor’s dugout and improve its performance against Mumbai City FC at the Mumbai Football Arena here on Friday night. The home side, meanwhile, faces a win-at-all-costs situation in its concluding league game.
Victory for fourth-placed MCFC, coached by Jorge Costa, will keep it in the reckoning for the league play-offs. Chennaiyin, in fifth place heading into its penultimate tie, won’t mind a draw in a tough away match. The visitor travels to Guwahati next to face NorthEastUnited FC and a win there will be enough to seal a berth in the play-offs.
MCFC is at full strength for this crucial game, giving Costa multiple options. The blues attack has forwards Modou Sougou of Senegal and Amine Chermiti of Tunisia as focal points. Diego Carlos, Mohammed Larbi, Bidyananda Singh, and Rowlin Borges also possess goal-scoring skills.
CFC will have to work over-time to keep MCFC’s marauders in check. If the visitor’s defensive formation under coach Owen Coyle can handle the heat, the contest to control the ball will be engrossing in midfield, where CFC looks better equipped.
Lithuanian forward Nerijus Valskis — 13 goals, four assists and 41 shots on goal in 16 leagues appearances in his debut season for CFC — remains a threat to any opponent, especially MCFC whose backline has a tendency to switch off. With captain Amrinder Singh in goal, the blues have let in the most goals among the first four squads — 28 against 25 scored.
Replying to a query about no players ruled out due to card suspensions, Costa observed: “We still have some injuries, it will go on till the end of the season. It feels good to have more options for the last game of the season, the most important match for us. This is one game we want to win, we need to win.”
CFC coach Coyle, said: “in terms of fighting for our lives, we have been doing that for three months, since I came to the club. Everybody thought we had no chance, we have been under pressure to win the last 10 games.” The visitor won the five of its last six games, drew one and is on a hot streak.