Chennaiyin FC go head to head against defending champions Atletico de Kolkata in the first leg of the second semi final in the 2015 Indian Super League on Saturday in Pune.
In the wake of massive floods, Chennaiyin FC have been forced to shift the venue for their home leg match against Atletico de Kolkata to Pune, but will also be missing out on a few of their key players.
Chennaiyin FCa s marquee player Elano Blumer hasna t been able to reproduce the same effect like last year, but still had his moments during the season. He is set to miss the match due to suspension.
The ever present Mehrajuddin Wadoo, will also miss out on the first leg due to their suspension after collecting four yellow cards during the course of the season. Raphael Augusto had been a key player in Chennaiyin FCa s late surge into the semis but his injury in the penultimate league stage match has ruled him out for the season.
Manager Marco Materazzi did admit that the unavailability of these players especially Raphael Augusto, was a definite setback for the team, but refused to accept that his team would start the semis as the underdog during the pre match press conference.
a They are crucial players but I think at this point all our players have shown they deserve to play. It would be crazy to think I can replace a player like Rafa(Raphael Augusto), the best player in the whole of ISL.a
Materazzi can’t seem to help Chennaiyin in their inability to defeat the defending champions in their previous four encounters, as he looks for their first victory over Atletico de Kolkata.
a Last year, we won two games against Kerala (Blasters) and we all saw what happened in the semifinals. Semifinal is a different game. Kolkata have an excellent team, excellent coach and the right attitude. This will be a good game,a said Materazzi.
While the semis will be an interesting affair, the mini duel between Colombian Stiven Mendoza, who will have to bear the responsibility in the absence of key players, and Canadian Iain Hume both of whom have scored 11 and 10 goals respectively and are in the race for this seasona s golden boot.
Meanwhile Atletico de Kolkata will look to defend their title in the best possible manner by reaching the finals to stop a new challenger from winning the trophy, but coach Antonio Lopez Habas refused to shed his cool temperament in front of the media, as he kept denying any pressure on him and his team to repeat the success of last yeara s edition.
a No pressure, absolutely no pressure.a
But despite winning all their previous encounter against Chennaiyin FC, Habas refused to take their opponents lightly as he looked to start with a fresh attitude for the semis.
a Chennaiyin FC are a very difficult team for us. They are strong and competitive. We have to play with intelligence. For me, ita s a 50-50 match. I dona t know (the result), ita s football. I can talk about this after the game.a
The Atletico de Kolkata coach refused that his team would eye a draw despite the two legged nature of the semi-finals.
a There are no advantages (from the first leg), We will still have 90 minutes more after this game,a said the Spanish coach.
Image Courtesy: ISL Media