The Hero Indian Super League is nearing its final stretch, as the two teams from south India come face to face in hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals, as Chennaiyin FC welcome Kerala Blasters in a round 11 game in Chennai on Saturday.
Both teams had qualified for last yeara s semi-finals, but the standings dona t make a good reading as either one of the two teams can hope to progress to the next round. Chennaiyin FC may lie at the foot of the standings, but three wins in their last four matches and they will surely be the contenders for a fourth place finish to the league stage but manager Marco Materazzi isna t willing to look that far ahead, but a victory over seventh placed Kerala Blasters will go a long way in instilling confidence among the players.
a There is not much to think about. We have to take one game at a time and hope that we win this one. After that, we will think about the next game.a
Chennaiyin FC, come on the back of a three match losing streak, will be eyeing for a better fortune against Kerala Blasters ,who piped them to the finals, but their future matches dona t inspire much confidence. Materazzi refuted claims of Chennaiyin FC being predictable in the pre match press conference as he cited the example of Jayesh Rane as well as their result against FC Goa.
a I wouldna t say we are predictable because when Jayesh was playing and we played against Goa, we scored four goals against a team who later scored seven (against Mumbai). I would like my players in optimal physical condition all the time but thata s not possible. The choice of Raphael is simple. He is an amazing player. He is a top player and thata s why I pick him,a said Materazzi.
Chennaiyina s top scorer Mendozaa s absence against Atletico de Kolkata irked everbody and the Italian was forced to explain his decision, while dismissing the suggestion of a rift.
a Mendoza was not injured and it was my choice. Ita s my responsibility. We wanted to make Fikru play for the full 90 minutes,a said Materazzi.
Kerala Blasters regained some confidence after trashing NorthEast United to 4-1 defeat, but will need to extend it to a winning run. Terry Phelan, though, sounded positive about a victory over Chennaiyin to further their ambitions.
a I think every game (from now on) is cagey. We are going into this game with plenty of confidence. There will be a few nerves but if we can get our players to get going, it will be exciting. Hopefully we will get a positive result.
a There is plenty of confidence in the team. We have just come off a great result against NorthEast. Youa ve got to play with confidence. Obviously ita s very tight at the moment. Ita s a must-win game for both teams. I am sure we can get a result. It will be nerve-racking at the start,a said Phelan.