Chennaiyin FC rode on a watertight defence during its title-winning campaign in Indian Super League 2017-18.
Despite minimal changes in terms of personnel, the backline has been weak and wobbly, conceding 10 goals in its first five games of the ongoing season. The defenders will have to be disciplined if the two-time champion is to reduce the daylight between it and those far ahead in the pack. The Abhishek Bachchan co-owned franchise is placed last but one in the table, with a solitary point from five outings.
Coming on the back of a dire run, CFC will be determined to put on a dominant display against Mumbai City FC in its third home game at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Saturday.
While the defensive duo of Jerry Lalrinzuala and Eli Sabia has been ever-present for the Chennai-based team, club captain Mailson Alves has found it difficult to break into the starting line-up. Inigo Calderon, primarily a full back, was deployed as a centre half in the last two away games against Delhi Dynamos FC and ATK. John Gregory’s decision to drop the Brazilian did raise a few eyebrows and one will have to wait to see if the skipper makes his way back into the playing eleven.
Anirudh Thapa, Germanpreet Singh and Raphael Augusto have failed to take command of the centre of the pitch thus far. Local lad Dhanpal Ganesh’s services are being dearly missed in midfield. The gaffer is also yet to find his best combination. Gregory Nelson, who terrorised opposition defenders with his searing pace in ISL Season 4, has been watching the action unfold from the bench most of the time.
CFC’s inefficiency to put the final touches to balls which crave for a finish from close range has been another cause for concern.
Three of Chennaiyin’s four goals came in the home fixture against NorthEast United FC, in which the visitor came from two behind to seal a win. Winger Thoi Singh has netted twice for the ‘Marina Machans’, with Carlos Salom and Sabia putting their name on the scoresheet once each. Gregory would want his boys to put on a better show in front of goal if it desires to walk away with three points.
Mumbai City has had a mixed season, collecting seven points from its five games. The tourist has also been facing similar issues like CFC. Its frontline is yet to hit top gear and its defence too has not played to its complete potential.
Facing a hungry CFC which is expected to hit the ground running, MCFC would hope to take at least a point from the contest.