Akbar Nawas’s Chennai City FC got off to a flying start in the I-League 2018-19, but it will face a big test when it squares off against Churchill Brothers at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Thursday.
Chennai City defeated Churchill conveniently on both occasions in the last edition. When asked if the squad will get extra confidence out of it, he added, “It’s a fresh game. It’s a different opponent. We have to give respect to Churchill.” Having made a host of changes to its squad this summer, Chennai City will be delighted with the performance of its overseas recruits in the first match of the season.
Akbar would be particularly pleased with the form of the team’s lead striker Pedro Javier Manzi, who got his name on the scoresheet thrice against the Arrows. Another partnership that has worked well for Chennai City is that of Edwin Sydney Vanspaul and Alexander Romario. The duo was a serious threat in the flanks and Akbar would want the pair to replicate the performance against Churchill.
Having conceded a goal in the early stages of the opener, the host will hope to better its defence and would look to come away with a cleansheet. Back four of Edwin Sydney, Eslava, Tarif Akhand and Ajith Kumar looked comfortable with the ball, but failed to stop the Arrows from scoring. Churchill Brothers is coming off a goalless draw against Minerva Punjab in its opening game. Despite creating many goal-scoring opportunities against Minerva, Churchill couldn’t score a goal throughout the encounter.
Churchill chief Peter Gigiu will look to improve on that aspect. “We have a new team. We need some time to have better understanding between the members of the squad. After three to four games, we’ll get into our zone completely. I saw CCFC’s last match, it looks a very good team. I hope for a nice game.” The last time these two teams met in the same fixture, the scoreline read 3-1 in favour of CCFC.