Two-time Indian Super League winners Chennaiyin FC and I-League outfit Gokulam Kerala FC played out a 1-1 pre-season friendly draw in Chennai today. New signing Rafael Crivellaro gave Chennaiyin FC an early lead from the spot as Andre Ettienne leveled the scoreline for the visitors later in the first half.
This was Chennaiyin FC’s first outing after their pre-season camp in Ahmedabad and Bhubaneswar. Vishal Kaith started in goal with Edwin Vanspaul and Jerry Lalrinzuala as full-backs. Eli Sabia and Lucian Goian were the central defenders as another new import in Masih Saighani started ahead of them in midfield. Thoi Singh and Romanian Dragos Firtulescu were on the wings as Brazilian Rafael Crivellaro supported Lithuanian striker Nerijus Valskis upfront. Germanpreet Singh also played in the middle.
Chennaiyin FC began brightly and earned an early penalty after some good interplay between Dragos and Edwin on the right. The Romanian spotted Rafael’s run into the box, only for the latter to be fouled before he took a shot. Rafael stepped up himself and powered the ball past Gokulam keeper Ubaid CK.
Gokulam Kerala FC looked at hitting back instantly and had two promising chances which fell to striker Henry Kisekka. The Ugandan however fluffed his efforts wide on both occasions. The visitors did draw level past the half hour mark, when another of their foreign players slotted home at the far post in the form of Andre Ettienne.
Both teams were unchanged at the break, however the coaches did ring in the changes shortly after in the searing afternoon Chennai heat. Karanjit Singh replaced Vishal in goal as youngsters Hendry Antonay, Remi and Deepak Tangri also came in along with Maltese forward Andre Schembri among others.
Schembri and Hendry combined well on the left on a number of occasions, freeing up Thoi Singh in the process. The Manipur winger pinged a couple of crosses for Valskis, however the Lithuanian was unable to make the most of it.
As the final whistle neared, the game was more stretched. Karanjit made a fine save towards the end from Gokulam Kerala FC substitute Nathaniel Garcia, palming away his effort from close range.
Both sides settled for the draw, putting in some hard yards in the humid conditions. A number of Chennaiyin FC supporters were present to spur their heroes on from up close.