Chennaiyin FC look to finish AFC Cup home campaign on a high
Both sides are locked on four points each with Chennaiyin sitting at the top of the table on goal difference. CFC had defeated Nepal’s Manang Marshyangdi Club 2-0 in their previous outing before playing out a goalless draw with Indian rivals Minerva FC in their opening match.Updated: Apr 29, 2019 21:21 IST
Buoyed by their maiden victory, Chennaiyin FC will look to end their home campaign on a high when they lock horns with Bangladesh side -- Abahani Limited Dhaka -- in the AFC Cup on Tuesday.
Both sides are locked on four points each with Chennaiyin sitting at the top of the table on goal difference. CFC had defeated Nepal’s Manang Marshyangdi Club 2-0 in their previous outing before playing out a goalless draw with Indian rivals Minerva FC in their opening match.
The clash with Abahani will be the first of a double header, with CFC travelling to Bangladesh for the reverse fixture in a fortnight.
CFC are coming into this match with seven clean sheets in their last 10 outings in all competitions, not having conceded in the AFC Cup campaign so far with four games played.
The Indian club will be without Brazilian midfielder Raphael Augusto while Abahani will miss the services of their top-scorer Sunday Chizoba and defenders Tapu Barman and Tutul Hossain Badsha.
“Abahani will be a big test but the boys have trained well and are 100 per cent focused for what will be our last home game of the group stage,” Chennaiyin head coach, John Gregory, said.
“It can be a challenge to maintain motivation with such gaps between games, but credit to the boys they have been great professionals with some fantastic work rate. Defensively we’ve become more resolute,” he added.
Abahani are coached by Portuguese tactician Mario Lemos who joined them in December last year after their Bangladesh Federation Cup triumph. Lemos also served as the Bangladesh national team’s fitness coach for a brief period earlier last year.
This edition is Abahani’s third consecutive appearance in the AFC Cup group stage, qualifying this time as Bangladesh Federation Cup winners. The Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) side hasn’t progressed beyond the group stages. They finished third in their group in last season.
All four of Abahani’s foreign recruits – Nigerian forward Chizoba, Haitian striker Kervens Belfort, Afghan defender Masih Saighani and Brazilian midfielder Wellington Priori -- have played at Indian clubs in the recent past.
Chizoba played for Churchill Brothers in the 2014-15 I-League season while Belfort has led Kerala Blasters FC (2016-17), Jamshedpur FC (2017-18) and Gokulam Kerala FC (2018-19).
Saighani played the 2017-18 I-League edition for Aizawl FC before signing with Abahani. Priori joined the record six-time BPL champions last month, having featured for NorthEast United (2016) and Jamshedpur FC (2017-18).
First Published: Apr 29, 2019 21:21 IST