Chennaiyin FC and Kerala Blasters had to settle for a goalless draw in the Southern derby of Hero Indian Super League at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai.
In a tale of two halves, Chennaiyin FC were the dominate side in the first session, creating plenty of chances but could not give finishing touches. Kerala Blasters were the stronger of the two teams in the second session but couldn’t keep their shots on target despite having the better chances. The draw did neither teams’ any good. Chennaiyin FC occupy the fourth spot after their second consecutive draw with nine points from six matches. Kerala Blasters continue their onward progress and they too now have nine points.
Chennaiyin FC coach Marco Materazzi made five changes to the team that drew against FC Pune City, opting to start with Bernard Mendy at the back at the expense of marquee player John Arne Riise. Karanjit Singh was back in goal to accommodate another international outfield player. Kerala Blasters coach Steve Coppell continued with the same squad that won all three points against FC Goa but it didn’t seem to work at the start as Chennaiyin FC enjoyed the edge in the first 45 minutes.
In the second minute itself, Chennaiyin FC could have taken the lead. Raphael Augusto won the ball in Kerala’s own half and played it down for Dudu Omagbemi whose left-footer was nervously parried away by Kerala goalkeeper Sandip Nandy before a defender kicked it away for a corner. Two minutes later, Kerala’s defence was sloppy as Josu Prieto’s back pass was closed down by Davide Succi but Aaron Hughes was on hand to clear the danger. The best chance of the first half fell at the feet of Bernard Mendy. A cross from Baljit Sahni towards the far post found Mendy, who sidestepped Cedric Hengbart but his shot from close range ended up hitting the side netting.
Kerala Blasters did not have a single shot on goal in the first session and were much improved in the second session with eight shots, three of them on target. Most of the threat came from Haitian international Kervens Belfort, who struck a majestic winner against FC Goa in the previous game. His first attempt on goal was at the hour mark when Mohammad Rafi’s header found Belfort but his first time shot was just wide of the mark. Belfort was again in the thick of action when Mohammed Rafique’s cross from the right saw Belfort get ahead of Chennaiyin FC defender Mehrajuddin Wadoo but the effort missed the target by a whisker.
FC Goa Eye A Second Win Against Delhi Dynamos FC
Sitting at the bottom of the table with only four points from 6 matches Zico’s FC Goa will be hoping to start to turn things around when they face Delhi Dynamos on Sunday. The Gaurs have had an awful start to their campaign and have played dismal football, which has earned coach Zico a lot of stick , both from fans and critics alike. The Dynamos too look meek, with no wins in their last five games. This tie could prove to be a crucial encounter as both sides look to use it as a rallying point in their bid to enter the race for the semis.
Team News And Tactical Brief
Last year’s finalists have been struggling big time in the latest edition of the Indian Super League and have won just once. The Gaurs have conceded the most number of goals in the league so far with 9 goals conceded and only 4 scored in their 6 matches played so far. Their defensive frailties come as a surprise, keeping in mind the fact that they have retained almost the core of their defense from their successful campaign last year. Coach Zico has been guilty of trying to shut up shop too soon at times, which has cost them at matches they had been leading.
The Goan outfit wont see too much change in the lineup since their last defeat at home, at the hands of Kerala Blasters. Subhashish Roy Chowdhury will be sure to retain his spot between the sticks, while there might be a shuffle in front of him, as marquee signing Lucio is all set to start the match along with Gregory Arnolin and Raju Gaikwad. It’s the middle of the park where the key to all of FC goa’s problems lie this time around. The absence of a player who can both hold the ball at times as well as make key passes going forward seems to have been playing a big hindrance in Goa’s plans.
The Brazilian duo of Richarlyson Felisbino and Trincade Goncalves look set to start again, while both Keenan Almeida and pratesh Shirodkar maybe dropped to the bench in favour of Mandar Rao Desai and Romeo Fernandes ,both of whom with their injection of pace and skill proved to be quite a handful during their last appearance as a substitute. Joffre, who has proved to be FC Goa’s saving grace and best player time and time again will retain his position behind the strikers and look to influence the game. Brazilian striker Julio Cesar, who was Goa’s goalscorer in their defeat against the Kerala Blasters will be partnering Robin Singh, who has yet to make any impact in the ISL this season, after switching to Goa from the Delhi Dynamos. Robin, who has been back in action after a long period out with injury has been almost ineffective, this match could be his make or break if he still wants to be in the coaches plans for the upcoming games, as Zico looks to try and turn things around.
Winless in their last 5 with only four points taken from a possible 15, Dynamos’ Italian coach Gianluca Zambrotta would need to turn things around and quick if he wants to have his side in contention for a play off spot and what better opposition than last placed FC Goa to begin a turnaround from.
Delhi, who currently sit 6th in the league table,with only a solitary win, will hope for a better result than their last outing when the made a thrilling comeback with a 79th minute equaliser from midfielder Milan Snigh. The Lions, who seemed to be a rejuvenated side this time around, has been good going up front but it’s their defensive which prove to be costly for them, time and time again. With 7 goals conceded in 6 matches, only their opponents , bottom placed FC Goa have conceded more. Soram Porei looks to retain his place in the goalkeeping setup as he helps open up the space for an extra foreign outfield player. In defense Anas Edathodika will again be partnering Ruben Gonzalves with fullbacks Shouvik Chakrabarti and Ghanaian David Addy retaining their spots. Shouvik seems to be rejuvenated player in this new campaign with the Delhi outfit, with improved performances both going forward and defending at the back.
In the center of the park,Emerson Moura will keep his place just infront of the defenders as he looks to provide support both at the back and going forward.Milan Singh, who was the goalscorer last time around is set to start again hoping to repeat his antics,partnering marquee man Florent Malouda, the leading assist maker last season, who is still searching for his maiden Indian Super League Goal. Brazilian Bruno Pelissari could play a vital role in creating chances for the Lions given the frailties in Goa’s back three. He is all set to get involved in the starting eleven, after making a brief appearance as a substitute last time around. Marcelinho too would retain his place, given his attacking prowess, despite failing to make most of his chances in the last match. Upfront it’s Richard Gadze who would be leading the line again for the Dynamos, as he looks to rattle to the Goan defence with his big presence.
FC Goa 2-2 Delhi Dynamos
Both sides will be looking to win this match which could mean a potential high scoring encounter. TheHardTackle predicts a 2-2 draw for this match.