CHENNAI: After playing out an enthralling 2-2 draw against Indian Army Red in its Durand Cup opener, Chennaiyin FC will face reigning Indian Super League champion Hyderabad FC in a heavyweight Group C contest in Imphal on Friday.
Chennaiyin will have its task cut out against a well-drilled Hyderabad, which recorded a 2-0 victory over TRAU FC in its first match. While head coach Thomas Brdaric will be pleased with the team’s never-say-die attitude – CFC scored twice at the end to share the spoils with Army Red – he will expect a better defensive performance.
In the final few minutes of stoppage time, the backline was caught napping and could not hold on to a slender one-goal lead. The offensive unit was not at its best either, failing to stamp its authority in the first half that ended goalless. But, Brdaric would not be too disappointed with the result, simply because of the fact that the Army Red match was Chennaiyin’s first competitive game under his leadership.
The German tactician opted for just three foreigners (Fallou Diagne, Julius Duker and Petar Sliskovic) in his first matchday squad, so it remains to be seen if he decides to give game time to the other overseas players (Vafa Hakhamaneshi, Rafael Crivellaro and Kwame Karikari). Brazilian midfielder Crivellaro is unlikely to take the field since he has no minutes under his belt (he did not play in any of the practice matches in Kolkata).
CFC will eye its maiden win in the 131st edition of the Durand Cup, but Hyderabad, coached by Spaniard Manolo Marquez, is expected to make life difficult for the ‘Marina Machans’.