Upbeat after beating rivals Kerala Blasters 3-1 in their previous outing, Chennaiyin FC take on an in-form FC Goa at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in the Indian Super League here on Thursday. Owen Coyle’s resurgent Chennaiyin FC are unbeaten in four games with two wins and two draws. As for FC Goa, they also come into this encounter on a high on a three-match winning run.
In terms of team news, Chennaiyin FC will be without the services of central defender Eli Sabia who misses out through suspension. FC Goa will be looking to field a full-strength side in what promises to be an entertaining affair with both sides showing potency in front of goal.
Chennaiyin FC’s Lithuanian striker Nerijus Valskis has been in great touch, scoring five goals in his last four games. He will be looking to continue linking up with the likes of Andre Schembri and Lallianzuala Chhangte, who also got on to the scoresheet against Kerala Blasters. It will be important for everyone to chip in with goals if Chennaiyin FC are to get the better of their opponents.
“Not only Nerka (Valskis) is scoring but Andre (Schembri) and (Lallianzuala) Chhangte starting to share the load and with the creativity of Rafa (Rafael Crivellaro), we will always create chances and you have two very good attacking teams trying to win the game,” said Chennaiyin FC Head Coach Owen Coyle during the pre-match press conference.
Chennaiyin FC broke a recent hoodoo in beating Kerala Blasters 3-1 last time out, having defeated them only in 2015 prior. Similarly, Chennaiyin FC don’t have the best home record against FC Goa, having beaten them only twice so far. Revenge will also be on the hosts’ mind, having lost this campaign’s opener 3-0 away at FC Goa. The scoreline flatters to deceive as Chennaiyin FC had a number of refereeing decisions go against them that evening.
Refereeing errors have been at the forefront this ISL campaign, with almost every game raking up a talking point. In the game against Kerala Blasters, the referee awarded Chennaiyin FC a goal and then after a long delay, protests by the opposition and consultations with the linesman, the referee overturned the goal and also a free-kick decision leading up to the goal. And with two attacking teams in Chennaiyin FC and FC Goa clashing, all stakeholders involved will be hoping the match officials get their act together and remain away from the spotlight.
Chennaiyin FC Head Coach Owen Coyle did mention that in his pre-match press conference by saying, “You have to get the big decisions, the goal-changing decisions correct. You don’t want people watching to say this is a great league with good teams but some terrible decisions every week. We want to keep the referees out of the spotlight because then it means they’ve done a good job. And I think if we can find a way to get those big decisions right, that helps everyone.”